Ponderosa Pine
Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex Lawson & C. Lawson 

Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine. Collected along the Clearwater River near the mouth of the North Fork of the Clearwater River in Clearwater Co., Idaho, on 1 Oct 1805. (Source)

The ponderosa pine is a coniferous tree with evergreen needles 4-10 inches long, usually in bundles of 3. The bark is orange brown to cinnamon with jigsaw-like plates outlined by deep, black fissures. The seed cones are ovala, 8-14 cm ling, with think, spine tipped scales, maturing in 2 years.  It bears cones as early as 7 years and continues to produce good cone crops up to at least 350 years. It flowers in June and the seeds ripen in October. 

The ponderosa pine has the potential for achieving large dimensions. Stems of 103.5 inches. and 232 feet in height have been recorded. Diameters at breast height of 30 to 50 inches and heights of 90 to 130 feet  are common throughout its range. Trees often reach ages of 300 to 600 years.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. Pacific ponderosa pine is typically found on warm, dry sites. The climate is characterized by a short growing season and minimal summer precipitation. The ponderosa pin can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It is found a elevations from 1,800 to 9,000 feet throughout the Central and Western U. S.

Food Uses
Inner bark - raw or cooked. Best harvested in the spring. The inner bark can be eaten fresh, but is more often dried, ground into a powder and either used as a thickener in soups or is mixed with flour for making bread etc. The seed, while quite small, is used raw or cooked. It is rich in oil and has a slightly resinous flavor. Quite small, it is only about 8mm long. The seed can be crushed into a meal and used in making bread etc. The resin has been chewed as a gum. Young male cones have been chewed for the juice. A vanillin flavoring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood. (Source)

Medical Uses
Ponderosa pine was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for its antiseptic and vulnerary properties, using it to treat a range of skin problems, cuts, wounds, burns etc. It was also valued for its beneficial effect upon the respiratory system and was used to treat various chest and lung complaints.

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.

The branches are used in herbal steam baths as a treatment for muscular pains. A decoction of the plant tops has been used in the treatment of internal bleeding and high fevers. An infusion of the dried buds has been used as an eye wash.  (Source)

Other uses:
Ponderosa pine is the most commercially valuable and productive timber tree in the inland west. High-quality logs are used for high-grade boards and a wide variety of other products including cabinets, molding, and cut stock. Lower-quality logs are used for dimension lumber and other construction products.

Value to Animals:
Ponderosa pine communities are critical habitat for a wide variety of birds  including owls, other cavity nesters, and wild turkey. Cavity-nesting birds use interior ponderosa pine snags for foraging and roosting as well as nesting.

Interior ponderosa pine provides habitat for many rodent species, and the seeds are an important food source for some rodents and shrews. Tree squirrels use interior ponderosa pine for nesting, and the seeds are among their most important foods. Ponderosa pine communities provide valuable deer habitat. Their under stories provide forage; production is highest in open stands. The tree itself provides minor browse. Common porcupines consume the phloem of mature interior ponderosa pine.

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