Ponderosa pine at
Map** Subspecies: ponderosa,
Ponderosa pine is the iconic conifer of the
western United States, instantly recognized by its distinctive,
bark, often seen in western movies. It grows to 200 feet (60 meters).
Ponderosa pine has 3 needles per bundle. The needles are up to 10
inches long, with sharp points. Ponderosa pine is easy to
outside of southwest Oregon because it is the
only 3 needle pine in the rest of the Northwest.
cones are 3 to 6 inches long and have a
sharp point on each scale.
The bark is the
most striking and
distinctive characteristic of this pine, with flat red or yellow plates
shaped like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The bark is more colorful on
older trees, most notably on large trees growing east of the Cascades.
Climate may also influence bark color.
it grows: Ponderosa pine
is common throughout much of the
western US. It is
the most common conifer in the Northwest east of the Cascades, growing
at elevations up to 5000 feet (1500 meters). Although it thrives in
regions, it is
also native to the
wet habitat of the Willamette Valley, but there the bark loses some its
distinctive color, as shown by the photo below. Ponderosa pine is the
state tree of Montana.
Two subspecies of Pinus ponderosa grow
- Columbia ponderosa, subspecies ponderosa
grows east of the Cascades summit. It has short needles bunched at the ends of branches.
- Pacific ponderosa, subspecies benthamianagrows
in the Willamette Valley and the coastal mountains of southwest
Oregon, and a few locations near Olympia, Washington. It also grows in
the mountains of California. Those in the Willamette Valley
are called Willamette Valley ponderosa pines. The needles of this
subspecies are typically longer than the other subspecies, usually over
- If you travel farther east, you will
encounter Rocky Mountain ponderosa, subspecies scopulorum,
which grows throughout much of the Rocky Mountains. Some sorces show subspecies brachyptera in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and sourth Colorado.
pine grows in
lumber is widely used in home construction, window and door frames,
moldings, and furniture. Squirrels, chipmunks and many kinds of birds
eat the seeds. Some cache the seeds, which facilitates the propagation
of more pine
Clark encountered this pine in 1805 and were impressed by
its long needles. In 1826, David Douglas named it for its heavy
(ponderous) wood. Other common names: Yellow pine, western yellow pine,
lists these as subspecies. Oregon Flora Project
lists them as
distribution based on
information from the Gymnosperm
Ponderosa pine bark
Ponderosa pine Bark