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.
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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