Pinus ponderosa grows in various erect forms from British Columbia southward and eastward through 16 western U.S. states and has been successfully introduced in temperate regions of Europe, and in New Zealand. It was first documented in modern science in 1826 in eastern Washington near present-day Spokane (of which it is the official city tree). On that occasion, David Douglas misidentified it as Pinus resinosa (red pine). In 1829, Douglas concluded that he had a new pine among his specimens and coined the name Pinus ponderosa for its heavy wood. In 1836, it was formally named and described by Charles Lawson, a Scottish nurseryman. It was adopted as the official state tree of Montana in 1949.
Sources differ on the scent of P. ponderosa. Some state that the bark smells of turpentine, which could reflect the dominance of terpenes (alpha- and beta-pinenes, and delta-3-carene). Others state that it has no distinctive scent, while still others state that the bark smells like vanilla if sampled from a furrow of the bark. Sources agree that the Jeffrey pine is more strongly scented than the ponderosa pine. When carved into, pitch-filled stumps emit a scent of fresh pitch.
Distributions of the subspecies in the United States are shown in shadow on the map. Distribution of ponderosa pine is from Critchfield and Little. The closely related five-needled Arizona pine (Pinus arizonica) extends southward into Mexico.
An additional variety, tentatively named P. p. var. willamettensis, found in the Willamette Valley in western Oregon, is rare. This is likely just one of the many islands of Pacific subspecies of ponderosa pine occurring in the Willamette Valley and extending north to the southeast end of Puget Sound in Washington.
Pinus ponderosa is a dominant tree in the Kuchler plant association, the ponderosa shrub forest. Like most western pines, the ponderosa generally is associated with mountainous topography. However, it is found on banks of the Niobrara River in Nebraska. Scattered stands occur in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and in the Okanagan Valley and Puget Sound areas of Washington. Stands occur throughout low level valleys in British Columbia reaching as far north as the Thompson, Fraser and Columbia watersheds. In its Northern limits, it only grows below 4,300 feet (1,300 m) elevation, but is most common below 2,600 feet (800 m). Ponderosa covers 1 million acres (4,000 km2), or 80%, of the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is found on foothills and mid-height peaks of the northern, central, and southern Rocky Mountains, in the Cascade Range, in the Sierra Nevada, and in the maritime-influenced Coast Range. In Arizona, it predominates on the Mogollon Rim and is scattered on the Mogollon Plateau and on mid-height peaks in Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona pine (P. arizonica), found primarily in the mountains of extreme southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and northern Mexico and sometimes classified as a variety of ponderosa pine, is presently recognized as a separate species.
The fire cycle for ponderosa pine is 5 to 10 years, in which a natural ignition sparks a low-intensity fire. Low, once-a-decade fires are known to have helped specimens live for half a millennium or more. The tree has thick bark and its buds are protected by needles, allowing even some younger individuals to survive weaker fires. In addition to being adapted to dry, fire-affected areas, the species often appears on the edges of deserts as it is comparatively drought resistant, partly due to the ability to close its leaf pores. It can also draw some of its water from sandy soils. Despite being relatively widespread in the American West, it is intolerant of shade.
Pinus ponderosa needles are the only known food of the caterpillars of the gelechiid moth Chionodes retiniella. Blue stain fungus, Grosmannia clavigera, is introduced in sapwood of P. ponderosa from the galleries of all species in the genus Dendroctonus (mountain pine beetle), which has caused much damage. Western pine and other beetles can be found consuming the bark. The seeds are eaten by squirrels, chipmunks, quail, grouse, and Clark's nutcracker, while mule deer browse the seedlings. American black bears can climb up to 12 feet up a ponderosa.
Pinus ponderosa is classed as a \"wilding pine\", and spreads as an invasive species throughout the high country of New Zealand, where it is beginning to take over, causing the native species of plants not to be able to grow in those locations. It is also considered a \"weed\" in parts of Australia.
Bull pine is just one of many nicknames for the loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), a pine that grows throughout the deep South and as far north as the southern end of New Jersey. A bull pine also goes by the names of North Carolina pine, Rosemary pine and Oldfield pine. You will recognize a bull pine growing in the wild by its size, foliage, cones and bark.
Search for the bull pine in many different locale types, because the tree adapts well to multiple conditions. Acidic soil in a spot that receives full sun is the optimum setting for bull pine, but the tree will occur in damp forests, among various species of hardwoods and in the fields located in the uplands of its range. Bull pine plantations exist in many parts of the South, with the tree valued and grown in large numbers for its timber.
Look for a tree that is around 90 to 110 feet tall. The bull pine, when young, will have branches on its lower trunk, but the older individuals will often have no branches for as far as halfway up the trunk.
Examine the needles of bull pine carefully, measuring them and feeling them. Bull pine has 4-inch to 9-inch needles that grow three to a bundle as they emerge from the branches. The bull pine needle is stiff and bluish-green. The ends are sharp and the foliage will stay evergreen year round.
Observe the bird activity around the bull pine. Certain species tend to gravitate toward this type of pine, says the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website. The red crossbill is one, as it uses the seeds as its main food source. Brown-headed nuthatches will walk up and down the trunk and ospreys along with bald eagles often use this tall tree to construct large, cumbersome nests.
What a surprise! The ponderosa pine is one of the first trees with a distribution in most of the WESTERN part of the US and part of Canada! According to National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees (Western Region,1980) this is the most widely distributed pine in the United States. Its range includes British Columbia. In Colorado the species covers about 2 million acres. The Colorado State Forest Service website, also says this is about 8 % of the forested area of the state. Ackerman mentions the tree grows from about 4600-9600 elevation. (Flora of Colorado, 2015.)
The Ponderosa pine is one of the three highest producing lumber species in the western United States. Its wood is used for everything from veneer to construction. Apparently the trunks were sometimes used as flagpoles as at least one story of the origin of the name Flagstaff in Arizona, involves a ponderosa pine displaying the US flag.
The ponderosa pine provided Native Americans with food, medicine, and transportation in the form of canoes or snowshoes, as well as construction material and dyes. Almost the entire plant could be eaten. The many medicinal uses included the usual ointment for infections, skin conditions, and pain control. A less commonly mentioned use of tree parts in medicine was needles being tools for dermatological and gynecological reasons. The rosin left over after turpentine distillation is used on violin bows.
At least four species of Ips beetle can infect ponderosa pines. These beetles normally attack dying or stressed trees, but when there are excess beetles they may attack and kill healthy trees. For the eighteen years from 1996 to 2014, the mountain pine beetle damaged over 3 million acres of trees in Colorado alone. Although these beetles have always destroyed some trees, according to the National Park Service recent outbreaks had become more severe. According to the Colorado State Forest, though, the problem may have begun to abate in 2017. In the past, long term cold snaps killed off many of the noxious beetles, but with warmer winters, good forestry management techniques must be employed, including thinning of trees, and solar treatment of logs from downed trees to help control the destructive insects. With climate change, the forests of the West, as well as the rest of the world, may be changing.
The Loblolly Pine will grow in medium to wet soils in full sun and prefers moist, acidic soils with poor drainage but will tolerate alkaline soils. It performs best in climates with hot and humid summers and mild winters. It sometimes grows in pure stands and commonly spreads into old fields by self-seeding. It has the most rapid growth rate of all pines.
The tree has three needles per fascicle. Books commonly cite needles occasionally in twos, although this has never been seen at NC State. This plant is confused with slash pine with needles in threes and twos, and literature data could possibly come from a misidentification in the past. Loblolly has twigs with tufts of needles at the apex. If one holds a Loblolly cone in their hand, grasps tightly and squeezes, the recurved spine of Loblolly drives into the skin. This is a common tree in plantations grown for paper pulp. It is often seen in subdivisions with homes built around these pines. This tree is good for fast screening when it is young and is easily transplanted from containers.
Hi HankThank you for the information on the edibility of Grey Pine nuts. We have property on Don Pedro Lake with numerous pines. We are spending a long weekend here and were looking forward to preparing a new recipe, Grilled Lamb Chops with Pine Nut Salsa Verde. Of course we forgot the store bought pine nuts! I got the bright idea to see if we could find some nuts from the pine cones on our trees, and guess what we did! I wanted to make sure that they were edible and found your website with all the information we needed to go from pine cone to skillet. Thank you! 59ce067264