Appalachia Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Looking For Rich Pine

looking for rich pine

On a chilly morning a few days ago the Blind Pig family headed up the ridge to look for rich pine.

what rich pine looks like

Just in case you don’t know-I guess I should show you what rich pine looks like first. As you can see from the photo above it looks like an old rotted log.

What fat lighter wood looks like

But once you cut into it-you see its not rotten after all. Oh and it smells so good-sorta like pine-some folks say it smells like turpentine.

Now that you know what it looks like we’ll continue our search. Even though the morning was cold the sun soon came out to heat things up and we grew warm with walking. More than a few layers had to be shed.

dead fur

Along the way we noticed a squirrel that had met with an untimely end and

Pine Beetle destruction

bemoaned the destruction caused by pine beetles. The folks who own this land had the pines logged before the beetles got to them. The ones on our land have already been ravished by the beetles and are taking turns falling every time the wind blows.

Hiking in western nc

After a short break…

Hiking in western nc 2

we continued up a narrow holler where…

Finding rich pine

Chatter found a snow encrusted funny pine cone and The Deer Hunter found a feather.

Looking for lightered wood

He grabbed ahold of this rotted log-which turned out to really be just a rotted log not rich pine. Once the top came off in his hands he saw the tiny feather. We both wondered if something took the bird inside to eat it or if the bird went into the log to get away from something that wanted to eat it. There was no sign of a nest-just the feather.

Finding fat lighter

The ridge above the little holler was full of rich pine-we actually found too much to carry home.

Finding lightered wood

If you believe you’ve found a piece of rich pine-the easiest way to check is to see if it feels solid-and then shave a few pieces off with a sharp knife. You can see the bright color a few hits with a knife uncovers-and the smell is a good indicator too.

How to find natural fire starters

As many of you pointed out yesterday it doesn’t take much rich pine to start a fire, just a little dab will do you. And you certainly would not want to build an entire fire with rich pine.

All in all we had a good day in the woods. We got some needed fresh air and exercise-and found a load of rich pine to boot.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Aaron Patterson
    April 4, 2019 at 6:12 am

    How many times did I scour the woods for rich pine to start a fire around my mom’s outdoor wash pot!

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    March 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Rich Pine is what we called Litern, we kept some on the hearth to get a fire going faster in the fireplace, it is almost like gasoline on a fire. I made the mistake and threw a whole Litern Knot on the fire not realizing what it was and started a chimney fire, thank God nothing was damaged and Mama didn’t get mad.

  • Reply
    Lynn Turner
    January 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Enjoyed reading this blog. We always called it lighter pine and have also heard it called fat wood.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Sure looks like ya’ll had a good time-Tipper, you are teaching your girls so much(& not just about lighter knot). Smart Mom.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Tipper – We used to go out and look for rich pine. Didn’t use it so much at home but, all the boys in my day loved to go camping and it sure helped starting a fire especially if the wood was a ittle damp.
    Those pictures are so good. That picture (I believe it is the sixth one) is super Tipper! That one would look good in your next book HINT HINT!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    In college forestry school I managed to get in an academic fraternity. Part of the initiation was that I had to carry a pine knot (“lighter wood”) in my overalls hip pocket for several weeks, plus carry a pine branch. This was to be done for all classes not just forestry.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    January 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you tipper for taking me along on your hike for rich pine, I really enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    This was a very enjoyable post; I’d like to hunt with you.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

    B.Ruth I am glad to know I’m not the only one who projects themself into one of Tipper’s scenes and sees more than the pictures actually show. When you’ve been there it’s not much of a leap to be there again.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

    i think i can smell it, I am sure I do. and i like that smell. i would love to build a roaring fire with a lot of it and watch it snap, crackle and pop like crazy.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Tipper, What a great way to spend a day with your family out in the woods. The pictures are great too. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    January 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

    LOVED this post….I think the little feather was the remnants of a woodpecker that used to live in a nesting hole in that old tree, before it fell…With pine beetle infestation, the best you can hope for, and for sure see, is an increase of all the woodpeckers native to your area…Yummmm, they just love them some pine beetles. Infested and dying wood, to make a easy home, while it is still upright…and of course as soon as it falls and a little decay starts on the ground they love to whittle away at the bigger beetles and larve that crawl inside their new home on the forest floor….
    Jim’s right about the pine cone…I’ve seen a few around when I was able to walk in the woods…I enjoyed my trip with you guys and girls to hunt for rich pine….Thanks Tipper…I got my excercise just sittin’ here! Ed…they made me carry the saw in my daydream….
    Oh, by the way…That SQUIRREL is probably the one the OWL dropped on you house last Fall…and yet another varmit must’ve picked it up before Deer Hunter could walk around the house to find it….LOL

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 17, 2012 at 9:09 am

    What great photos of your adventure. You know Tipper, every one of these adventures you, the Deer Hunter, Chitter and Chatter go on are more than blog fodder they are teaching trips. Your girls are learning, first hand, things that few kids learn these days. They are learning Appalachian values and ways that don’t come from books!
    I applaud you and the Deer Hunter for all you are doing to to pass along real values to generations yet to come.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 17, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Tipper–That strange looking pine cone got that way for a reason. A bushytail had been busy on it–stripping one layer at a time to get to the seed found at the base of each layer. Pine cones aren’t generally thought of as a mast source enjoyed by squirrels, but at the right time of year they’ll work on them with a will.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I’m lovin’ your “rich pine” stories. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

    So enjoyed your photoessay on hunt for rich pine! It’s good to know families still do these “work” yet “fun” adventures. My Daddy had a way of making some of our hardest work on our North Georgia mountain farm seem like fun!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 17, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I miss my walks in the mountains. See you in the spring.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Sounds like a wonderful day! I love to smell the rich lighter pine. Being out in the woods and seeing all the wonders of nature is a great way to spend the day! Hope the rich lighter pine you found builds fires to keep you all cozy and warm!

  • Reply
    dolroes barton
    January 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Very interesting!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Ed-yes you are right it is a Husky. And no he didnt lug it up hill and down : ) We carried-pulled-and dragged the rich pine pieces home-then he cut it up into smaller pieces : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    January 17, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Ed, I was thinking the same thing. That is a nice hunk of lightered pine.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    January 17, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Great family day out in the fresh air! Glad you found plenty of rich pine.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 17, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Hope the Deer Hunter didn’t have to lug that Husqvarna all up and down those hills and hollers. At least I think it’s a Husky. It’s the right color.

  • Leave a Reply