Evergreen coniferous tree to 50 m (180 ft) tall and 120 cm (4 ft) diameter with long straight trunk and conical open crown. Bark blackish on small trees to yellowish-brown on large old trees, with large flat scaly plates. Twigs thick, rough, dark gray. Buds terminal, cylindrical, with numerous long-pointed scales and yellowish-white hairs. Leaves needle-like, usually three but sometimes two in a bundle, 10-18 cm (4-7 in) long, persistent 4-6 years, basal sheath persistent. Cones egg-shaped, 6-15 cm (2.5-6 in) long with thin scales and short prickles, brown, opening at maturity.
Distribution: Eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast and southwestern Canada to northern Mexico.
Habitat: Foothill and lower montane zones.
NWI status: FACU
Comment: An important timber tree, marketed as "western yellow pine". Ponderosa pine in Oklahoma is limited to a small area in upper Tessequite Canyon in western Cimarron County. Pinus is the ancient Latin name for the pines; ponderosa means "heavy" and may refer to the wood.
Distribution in Oklahoma:
RETURN TO INDEX
Last update: 9/15/99
Go to Oklahoma Biological Survey Home Page