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Pinus serotina is sometimes referred to as a variety or subspecies of P. rigida Mill., and their respective ranges overlap. The two species form a hybrid zone in the Delmarva Peninsula, although P. serotina also hybridises with P. taeda. In most respects the morphology of P. serotina is very similar to that of P. rigida but there are some differences, as described below, and they also have distinct habitat preferences. The leaves of P. serotina are slender and flexible, and 15–20 cm long, while those of P. rigida are (as the name suggests) rigid, and 7–14 cm long. The cones of P. serotina are almost spherical, 5–9 × 5–7 cm, yellow, serotinous, the umbo with a weak, early deciduous prickle, and they are mature in about 18 months; in P. rigida, by contrast, cones are ovoid-conical, 3–7(–9) × 3–4 cm, yellow-brown, opening at maturity, and the umbo is armed with a short, rigid prickle. Serotinous cones are characteristic of P. serotina, but in coastal New Jersey and Maryland cones of P. rigida are serotinous also. When not in cone, P. serotina is very similar to P. taeda, though the former has very resinous buds while the latter does not. Thieret 1993, Farjon 2005a. Distribution USA: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia. Habitat Low, wet flatlands and peat-rich or sandy swamps in the Coastal Plain, between 0 and 60 m asl. For comparison, P. rigida is a montane species, only reaching the coast in the north of its range (between 0 and 1500 m asl). Both species are adapted to fire, and young trees can regenerate after coppicing. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Farjon 2005a. Cross-references B241, K236.
Bean (1976b) dismissed Pinus serotina as tender, but more accurately, it is one of the southeastern Coastal Plain species that really requires a hot summer to thrive. It will grow reasonably well in southern England, as demonstrated by several half-decent trees of 10–15 m at Kew, and on the East Coast of the United States as far north as Philadelphia. Beyond its interest to collectors, however, it has no horticultural merit.