Form: A large tree with an irregular crown, eventually developing
a flat top or short conical crown. Ponderosa pine self-prunes well and
develops a clear bole. Can reach up to 150 feet high. Because it is
drought resistant, heat tolerant, and very hardy, it is one of the most
important of our native ornamental evergreens.
||Bark: Very dark (nearly black) on young
trees, developing cinnamon-colored plates and deep furrows.
||Leaf: Evergreen, 5 to 10 inches
long, with three (sometimes 2) tough, yellow-green needles per fascicle.
When crushed, needles have a turpentine odor sometimes reminiscent of
citrus. Flower: Monoecious, males yellow-red, cylindrical, in clusters
near ends of branches; females reddish at branch tips. Fruit: Cones are
ovoid, 3 to 6 inches long, sessile, red-brown in color, armed with a
slender prickle. Maturing August to September. Twig: Stout, orange in
color, turning black. Buds often covered with resin.
Artists have been known to climb these trees during a storm or good
wind and listen to the song of the long needles. Try it sometime, but be
careful with your climbing. You may need a climbing belt since there are
few branches near the ground.