Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine
Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum

Secondary Names:
western yellow pine

Leaf Type: Evergreen
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A large tree reaching to over 100 feet tall (230 feet max.) and a trunk to 3 feet in diameter (8 feet max.), with an open, rounded crown of dark green needles. The most important commercial pine of the southwestern U.S. and many parts of the Rocky Mountain region.

Range/Site Description:

Reaches the southeast limit of its range in the Guadalupe and Davis mountains of West Texas, where it is scattered on high-elevation slopes and is of little commercial value; also favored as an ornamental tree in the Texas Panhandle.


Needles are 5" to 10" long, in bundles of 3, and massed toward the ends of the branches where they remain for about 3 years. When crushed, the needles give off an aromatic, citrus odor.


Male conelets are brown, about 1.5" long appearing in spring at the tips of branchlets; female cones are round, about 0.25" long, and reddish.


A woody, short-stalked cone, 3" to 6" long, oval-shaped, reddish-brown, and armed with stout, recurved prickles on the tips of the scales.


Thick and separating into broad, flat, reddish or brown plates, separated by dark fissures. Bark smells like vanilla when scratched with a fingernail.


The wood is hard, strong, rather fine-grained, with reddish or orange-brown heartwood and nearly white sapwood. In the commercial part of its range, the wood is of excellent quality for lumber, timbers, and fuel.

Similar Species:

The rare Arizona pine (Pinus arizonica var. stomiae) replaces ponderosa pine in Chisos mountains and has four- and five-needled clusters; loblolly pine (P. taeda) occurs in East Texas.

Interesting Facts:

Timber from the Davis mountains was used for lumber and planking to build Fort Davis, a frontier fort to protect settlers from Comanche and Apache Indian raids.

Back   Print results