Ponderosa pine

(Pinus ponderosa)

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Description

Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the ponderosa pine, bull pine, blackjack pine, western yellow-pine, or filipinus pine is a very large pine tree species of variable habitat native to mountainous regions of western North America. It is the most widely distributed pine species in North America. Pinus ponderosa grows in various erect forms from British Columbia southward and eastward through 16 western U.S. states and has been successfully introduced in temperate regions of Europe, and in New Zealand. It was first documented in modern science in 1826 in eastern Washington near present-day Spokane (of which it is the official city tree). On that occasion, David Douglas misidentified it as Pinus resinosa (red pine). In 1829, Douglas concluded that he had a new pine among his specimens and coined the name Pinus ponderosa for its heavy wood. In 1836, it was formally named and described by Charles Lawson, a Scottish nurseryman. It was adopted as the official state tree of Montana in 1949. Pinus ponderosa is a large coniferous pine (evergreen) tree. The bark helps to distinguish it from other species. Mature to over-mature individuals have yellow to orange-red bark in broad to very broad plates with black crevices. Younger trees have blackish-brown bark, referred to as "blackjacks" by early loggers. Ponderosa pine's five subspecies, as classified by some botanists, can be identified by their characteristically bright-green needles (contrasting with blue-green needles that distinguish Jeffrey pine). The Pacific subspecies has the longest—7+3⁄4 inches (19.8 centimetres)—and most flexible needles in plume-like fascicles of three. The Columbia ponderosa pine has long—4+3⁄4–8 in (12–20.5 cm)—and relatively flexible needles in fascicles of three. The Rocky Mountains subspecies has shorter—3+1⁄2–5+3⁄4 in (9.2–14.4 cm)—and stout needles growing in scopulate (bushy, tuft-like) fascicles of two or three. The southwestern subspecies has 4+1⁄2–7+3⁄4 in (11.2–19.8 cm), stout needles in fascicles of three (averaging 2+3⁄4–3+1⁄2 in or 68.5–89 millimetres). The central High Plains subspecies is characterized by the fewest needles (1.4 per whorl, on average); stout, upright branches at narrow angles from the trunk; and long green needles—5+3⁄4–7 in (14.8–17.9 cm)—extending farthest along the branch, resembling a fox tail. Needles are widest, stoutest, and fewest (averaging 2+1⁄4–2+3⁄4 in or 56–71 mm) for the species.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order:Pinales
Family:Pinaceae
Genus:Pinus
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