Table Mountain pine, Pinus pungens, also called hickory pine, prickly pine,[1] or mountain pine, is a small pine native to the Appalachian Mountains in the United States.

Pinus pungens is a tree of modest size (6–12 m), and has a rounded, irregular shape. The needles are in bundles of two, occasionally three, yellow-green to mid green, fairly stout, and 4–7 cm long.The pollen is released early compared to other pines in the area to minimize hybridization. The cones are very short-stalked (almost sessile), ovoid, pale pinkish to yellowish buff, and 4–9 cm long; each scale bears a stout, sharp spine 4–10 mm long. Sapling trees can bear cones in a little as 5 years.

Table Mountain Pine
Table Mountain Pine

This pine prefers dry conditions and is mostly found on rocky slopes, preferring higher elevations, from 300–1760 m altitude. It commonly grows as single scattered trees or small groves, not in large forests like most other pines, and needs periodic disturbances for seedling establishment. — Wikipedia

I see this pine on the rocky escarpment of the Blue Ridge. Chimney Rock State Park is covered in them.  In the spring, they put on new cones and the needles are a lush “healthy” green.

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