Ponderosa Pine- Pinus ponderosa Range - Ponderosa Pine is one of America's abundant tree species, covering approximately 27 million acres of land. Stands can be found from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific Coast eastward to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Its growth range covers an area encompassing more than 35 percent of the total acreage of the U.S.
California, Oregon and Washington account for a major share of the annual harvest. Arizona and South Dakota are also important producing areas with lesser amounts coming from Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico.
Growth Habits - Ponderosa Pine trees average 100' to 160' in height, with some exceeding 180'. The trees range from 2-4' in diameter, with the rate of growth depending upon altitude, soil, temperature and rainfall.
Mature Ponderosa Pines can be easily identified by their distinctive orange-brown bark which is arranged in large plates. The dark yellow-green needles are 5-10" long and grow in clusters of three. The cones, similar in color to the bark, are 3-6" long and 2-4" in diameter. Seeds are 5/16-3/8" long with a 3/4-1" wing.
In pure, or nearly pure, stands of Ponderosa Pine there is a standing inventory of approximately 188 billion board feet of lumber; in mixed stands there are additional billions of board feet in unmeasured inventory. Most Ponderosa trees grow, mature and survive for about 125 years before they are lost to natural causes such as rot, insect damage, fires or wind throw. Occasionally, a lone specimen will survive for nearly 200 years. Their typical site is on semi-arid plateaus and slopes, often surrounded by juniper and sage.
Ponderosa Pine forests are usually selectively harvested rather than clear cut. This method of logging removes only the mature trees and leaves the other trees to re-seed and mature. Selective harvesting often makes it difficult to identify a recently logged stand.
Ponderosa Pine (pinus ponderosa) is one of the Western pine species that includes Idaho White Pine (pinus monticola), Sugar Pine (pinus lambertiana) and Lodgepole Pine (pinus contorta). The Western pines are distinct from the Southern Yellow pines which are denser and pitchier, with widely different characteristics and uses.