53. Ponderosa Pine

(Pinus ponderosa)

Other Common Names: Bull Pine, Western Yellow Pine, Yellow Pine

Family:  Pinaceae

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At Guthrie Annex 4, right up against Stevens Way, is a prominent Ponderosa Pine. The tree is precariously close to a road, a birch, and a building. It doubtless is stunted somewhat, yet still has a handsome, symmetric crown of long needles. This pine is the most common of all Pinus in western North America, having a vast range from Canada into Mexico.  The needles are 5 to10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) long and borne in bundles of three. It is fortunate that the fairly large prickly cones weigh so little as they hover above pedestrians and vehicles.

"Ponderosa" means heavy, ponderous, or weighty. The trees have deep black crevasses in distinctive orange bark that smells sweet like butterscotch. The cones and bark scales burn easily and give off little smoke. An important timber source, the wood is light, strong and fine-grained. It is used to make furniture, boxes, toys, and fence posts. It also makes good kindling and was used historically as material for torches. These giants can live to be 300-600 years old in nature, and are known to grow up to 227 feet (69.2 meters) tall and 8 feet (2.4 meters) in diameter.

[Leaves and cone of Ponderosa Pine]

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