Trees to 12m; trunk to 0.6m diam., straight to crooked, erect to leaning, poorly self-pruning; crown irregularly rounded or flattened. Bark red- to gray-brown, irregularly checked into scaly plates. Branches horizontally spreading; twigs slender, orange- to yellow-brown, aging darker brown, rough. Buds ovoid to cylindric, red-brown, 0.6--0.9cm, resinous. Leaves 2(--3) per fascicle, spreading or ascending, persisting 3 years, 3--6(--8)cm ´ 1--1.5mm, twisted, deep yellow-green, all surfaces with fine stomatal lines, margins harshly serrulate, apex acute to short-acuminate; sheath 0.5--1cm, base persistent. Pollen cones ellipsoid, ca. 15mm, yellow. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, variably serotinous, mostly whorled, downcurved, asymmetric, ovoid before opening, broadly ovoid when open, (4--)6--10cm, gray- to pale red-brown, nearly sessile or on stalks to 1cm; apophyses thickened, diamond-shaped, strongly keeled, elongate, mammillate at cone base abaxially; umbo central, a stout, curved, sharp claw. Seeds deltoid-obovoid, oblique; body ca. 6mm, deep purple-brown to black; wing 10--20(--30)mm. 2 n =24. Dry, mostly sandy or shaly uplands; Appalachians and associated Piedmont; 500--1350m; Del., Ga., Md., N.J., N.C., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Va., W.Va. Pinus pungens is a scrub pine and is too small and knotty to be much utilized except for pulpwood and firewood. Its common name refers to a general type of landform, not to a specific, named mountain.
Small, often crooked tree to 10(20) m, with widely spreading branches; lvs in 2's or rarely some of them in 3's, dark bluish-green, stiff, sharp, usually twisted, mostly 4-9 cm נ1.5-2 mm; cones spreading or deflexed, conic-ovoid, mostly 6-9 cm long- persistent, often remaining closed for several years or until fire; apophysis thick, strongly elevated at the center, the umbo pyramidally projecting, with a very stout, spreading or upwardly curved spine 3-8 mm; seeds ca 2 cm; male cones reddish-purple. Dry or rocky soil, chiefly in the mts.; Pa. and adj. N.J. to n. Ga. Readily recognizable by its strongly armed cones.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.