Pinus ponderosa
(Ponderosa Pine)

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
Also known as Western Yellow, Yellow, Pondosa, Blackjack, or Bull Pine.
  • commonly in 3's, but often in 2's clustered toward the ends of and on the same twigs, varying in length from 10-25 cm long, yellowish green in color.
  • 2-3 cm long, yellowishstaminate cones in clusters;
  • ovulate cones also near branch tips, require as all pines 2 years to mature;
  • brown at maturity, ovate in shape, 8-14 cm long; the chocolate-brown scales have a stiff spine (one does not play catch with these!).
  • Commonly a portion of the cone remains on the twig and the lower scales reflex backward toward the center covering the area vacated by the portion left on the tree.
  • are purplish - brown, 6-7 mm long, with a wing 18- 28 mm long containing 6-12 cotyledons.

General Description:
A massive, straight-trunked tree, 30-60 m tall, with a narrow, columnar crown and scattered branches upturned at their ends; trunk 1-2 m in diameter, with thick bark marked by very broad, shield-like red-russet plates; leaves yellowish-green, clustered toward the ends o£ the branches; cones broadly ellipsoid, horizontal or somewhat deflexed, reddish-brown; scales thin, narrow, thickened at the apex, and with prickles; seeds 6-7 mm long, with wings 25-35 mm long. This is a valuable lumber tree. Dry hillsides and plateaus. S.D. to B.C., south to Texas and Calif.

South Centra British Columbia to Baja California east and west of the Cascade Mountains east to S.. E.. British Columbia through the Rockies with a disjunct population in the Black Hills of South Dakota south through Nebraska to western Texas and northern Mexico.

Found at lower to mid-elevations in areas with deep snows and dry summers; at first they grow in “doghair” stands which are thinned by fires; they produce many leaves and cones which cover the understory and cause a fire hazard. Seedlings require open areas, being intolerant of shade. They range in elevation from 0 to 9000 feet. They prefer deep, well drained soils. They grow in pure stands or mixed with Douglas Fir and Western Larch.

Bark beetles damage or kill these trees. The light, strong wood is used for the manufacture of boxes, crates, toys, furniture, construction, mill products and timbers.
Wildlife such as spruce grouse, pine jays and Clark nutcrackers, chipmunks rely on the seeds. Mule deer , porcupines and rodents feed on young saplings.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002