Lower elevation montane forests
Western United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Ponderosa pines are conifers, or trees bearing cones that contain the seeds. They generally grow 90 to 130 feet tall. Similar to their close relative Jeffrey pines, ponderosas also have clusters of three needle-like leaves which range from 5 to10 inches long. Ponderosa pines differ from Jeffreys with smaller cones that have sharp barbs pointing outwards from the end of the cone scales. In mature trees, ponderosa bark forms as large, orange-brown to yellow colored plates that shed flakes shaped like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Ponderosa pines are fire-adapted species: Thick bark and the ability to self-prune, or drop, lower branches make these conifers tolerant to low severity fires.
Deep roots allow ponderosas to survive in dry climates.
Indigenous peoples used many parts of these trees, including needles and pitch, for food, building, and medicinal purposes.
Co-occurs, and can even hybridize with Jeffrey pines, making it difficult to tell the species apart! However, ponderosa pines generally grow under less stressful conditions at lower elevations and on higher quality soil than Jeffrey pines.
USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa: Ponderosa Pine, 2018, https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/pinponp/all.html
USDA NRCS Plant Guide, Ponderosa Pine, 2004, https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_pipo.pdf
USDA USFS Boise NF, Ponderosa Pine
USDA USFS, Ponderosa Pine Ecosystems, 2005, https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr198/psw_gtr198_a.pdf
David Charlet, Atlas of Nevada Conifers, 1996
IUCN Red List, Ponderosa Pine, 2021, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/42401/2977432
Image: Chris M Morris, https://www.flickr.com/photos/79666107@N00/2968795025/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: USDA NRCS Montana, https://www.flickr.com/photos/160831427@N06/25010099278/, license https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Natasha de Vere & Col Ford, https://www.flickr.com/photos/col_and_tasha/5195149478/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
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