Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine, Yellow Pine)



 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Coniferophyta Conifers






 Pinaceae Pine family


 Pinus L. pine


 Pinus ponderosa C. Lawson ponderosa pine


 Pinus ponderosa C. Lawson var. ponderosa ponderosa pine

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

A magnificent, three-needle yellow pine, the Ponderosa Pine grows rapidly, reaching 200 with widths of 30.

The deep green needles are 6 10.

Large, brown bristly cones grow to 4, often in pairs, and persist on the tree for a long time.

Found in USDA zones 5 10, this tree grows from British Columbia to southern California, east to North Dakota and southeast to Texas.

Ponderosa Pine likes plenty of room and deep, light, porous soil as it develops a long taproot. These trees are highly drought-resistant and can grow in full sun, where they exude a glorious vanilla scent!

They are excellent specimens for coastal planting, being very tolerant of salt spray.

Ponderosas come from two different seed sources, eastern and western Oregon. The trees bear the same scientific name but differ in their requirements as described below.

Plants from seeds native to the east side of the Cascades.

The eastern type of Ponderosa likes drier sites and is most comfortable in the high desert country.

 Nearly 100% of Ponderosa come from this type of seed.

Plants from seeds native to the Willamette Valley, on the West side of the Cascades.


When early settlers came to the Willamette Valley, some Ponderosa were found that were native to the wetter climate of the Valley.

A few of these ancient trees remain and are the source for these plants. These pines will tolerate damp, boggy sites.

Bark of Willamette Valley Ponderosa, below left.


From Homepage March 11, 2006

Ever since Hoss and Little Joe rode into our living rooms via television, Ponderosa is synonymous with the West. But did you know this beautiful northwest native pine comes in two kinds?

It's true! The Ponderosa that grows on the east side of Oregon is distinctly different than the western Ponderosa. Oh, they look a lot alike but their favored habitat is where the difference lies.

West side Ponderosa has evolved to love the wetter and milder climate typified by the Willamette Valley. The east side Ponderosa adores basking in the hot sun and braving the cold, snowy winters.

For gardeners, this is fabulous news--whether you're a watering, pampering sort of gardener or a 'let 'em eat cake,' water once a year (if that) variety of green thumb there is a Ponderosa that will thrive in your landscape, naturally!

Plant some Ponderosas today. Hoss and Little Joe would feel right at home!

From Homepage July 11, 2003

"Western" or "Oriental" or "homespun" are words often used to describe the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa). The long deep green needles have been used for centuries for weaving into baskets and mats. Their glorious vanilla scent is released by the sun, an added attraction and just the thing for a striking entrance or backdrop in a fragrance garden. Here in the Pacific northwest there two distinctly different types of this native tree, evolved to suit two different environments.

From seeds native to lands on the east side of the Cascade Mountains and beyond grow the most common sort of Ponderosa. It likes the dry climate of eastern Oregon, Idaho and is found as far south as Texas. If your yard is sunny and drainage is good, trees grown from eastern seeds are perfect for you.

Settlers coming to Oregon's Willamette Valley found a Ponderosa that favors the wetter climate found from the west side of the Cascades to the Pacific shore. A very few of these ancient trees have survived the inroads of civilization and development. If your landscape has a damp or boggy site, a tree from the western seed is just right.

The Ponderosa is resilient and easy to grow, wonderful for coastal gardens--ocean mists are tolerated very well.

If you wish to include a Ponderosa in your garden, choose trees from either eastern or western seeds according to the light and moisture conditions in your yard.

From Homepage October 18, 2003

Ponderosa Pine: these words put a picture in my mind of wide open spaces and panoramic views of purple hills off in the distance with long-needled pines studding the landscape. Ponderosas are quite prevalent in the eastern part of Oregon. In fact they grow from British Columbia to southern California, east to North Dakota and southeast to Texas. They like lots of room (wide open spaces!), soil that will allow their long taproot, full sun and little water once established. Lewis and Clark were the first pioneers to document these eastern Ponderosas.

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