Needles in groups of three )
Pine Family (Pinaceae)
Habitat: sunny mountainsides
Height: 36 m (120 ft)
Description: This southern pine has a long, straight trunk, which may be free of branches for much of its length. The crown is narrow, with widely spaced, drooping branches. The bark is scaly and dark on young trees, becoming orange-brown and deeply furrowed on older trees.
This is the only three-needled pine in the Rocky Mountains. The needles are grouped in threes, and are very long, ranging between 13-28 cm (5-11 in). The needles are also very sharp.
The cones resemble a lodgepole pine in appearance, but lack the resin that seals the cones of the lodgepole pine. Each cone is between 7.5 to 15 cm (3-6 in), with little visible stalk. The cones mature in the fall, and open soon after, releasing the seeds. After the seeds are released, the cones drop to the ground.
Similar Species: No other mountain pine has needles in groups of three, or nearly as long as the needles of the ponderosa pine.
Range: The ponderosa pine is found in the very southern Canadian Rockies, in particular along the western side of the Continental divide, extending south throughout most of the American Rockies.
It is most common in western slope montane habitats, where it may form almost pure stands.
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