Pinus ponderosa
Common Name: ponderosa pine 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 60.00 to 125.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained sandy to gravely loams in full sun. Prefers light, moist soils with good drainage. No tolerance for shade. Established trees tolerate some dry soil conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinus ponderosa, commonly called Ponderosa pine, is the dominant pine tree of the western U.S. It usually grows best at elevations of 4000-8500 feet. It is native primarily to mountain areas from British Columbia to Mexico east to North Dakota, Nebraska and Texas. It is the State Tree of Montana. It often grows in pure stands. This is a large conifer (ponderous as the species and common names suggest) that typically grows in a conical form to 60-125’ in cultivation, but may reach 225’ tall or more in the wild. In the western U.S., only the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) grows taller. Ponderosa pine trunks grow to 4’ in diameter. Trees may live to 600 years. Dark yellow-green needles (5-10” long) in bundles of three (infrequently bundles of two) are concentrated in tufts at the branch ends. Oval cones (4-6” long) grow upright, but turn upside down at muturity to release seed. Bark on young trees is dark brown to black. Bark on mature trees is bright yellowish-brown to reddish-orange and irregularly furrowed into large scaly plates. Trunk, broken twigs and needles emit a resinous aroma. This is an important timber tree.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for pines.

Specific epithet means heavy.

Problems

In its native habitat, healthy, well-maintained trees usually have few major problems. These trees may struggle in the St. Louis area where hot summer, soils and general environmental conditions do not favor most pines. Root rots, needle blight and blister rust may occur. Bark beetle can cause significant damage.

Garden Uses

A large and attractive tree in its native habitat. It is not generally recommended for planting in the St. Louis climate where it may struggle.