Ponderosa Pine   Rory Nichols
  Aug 11, 2002 17:00 PDT 

What varieties of ponderosa pine besides Arizona pine grow in Arizona? To
me, it seems kind of strange that the 3 varieties of ponderosa all have
different sets of needles, therefore, very easy to tell apart. It always
seems that subspecies are always very difficult if not nearly impossible to
tell apart.

Jeez...... with all these wildfires around, it makes me wonder if my
favorite campground is still okay. Big Pine CG in southern Oregon is near
the Biscuit fire which has burned about 333,891 acres last I heard. It's
home to the world's tallest ponderosa pine which is 250' tall and less than
6' thick. And perhaps even closer to the blaze is the nat'l champ
Port-orford-cedar. I'll have to find out where exactly the fire has gone and
where the trees stand.

I hope to make it to California this summer, but not sure how that will work
out. I have never seen the sequoias and would love to make it to that part
of the state. What are some of the areas you've hiked in California? Any

[United States. Forest Service; Sudworth, George Bishop. 1908. Forest
trees of the Pacific slope. Washington, DC: Govt. Print. Off.]

Thanks for the link! That's quite a big book. I may have seen it at the
library before, but must have overlooked it. I'll have to check out the
willow section! How long do you think it took Mr. Sudworth to put together a
book like that??? Wow!!!


Re: Ponderosa Pine   Don Bertolette
  Aug 11, 2002 21:34 PDT 
As is often the case, different varieties of the same species may hybridize
at interfaces of geographic ranges, making a seemingly obvious task
challenging. Specificically, the following description of the differences
(note the phrase "usually has...":

The currently accepted scientific name of Pacific ponderosa pine is
Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa Dougl. [28].
Three varieties of ponderosa pine are currently recognized and are
distinguished by morphological variations and geographical location
     var. arizonica (Engelm.) Shaw - Arizona pine. (classified as a
                                     separate species, P. arizonica
                                     Engelm.), by some authorities).
                                     Occurs in the mountains of extreme
                                     southwest New Mexico, southeast
                                     Arizona, and northern Mexico. Has
                                     shorter cones and narrower cone
                                     scale prickles. Usually has
                                     five-needle fascicles.
     var. ponderosa - Pacific ponderosa pine. Extends from the
                       mountains of southern California northward along
                       the Sierra Nevada-Cascade Range to southern
                       British Columbia. Usually has three-needle
     var. scopulorum (Engelm.) - Interior ponderosa pine. Extends from
                                 west-central Montana, southward through
                                 the mountains, plains, and basins of
                                 Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Has
                                 a moderate to high proportion of
                                 two-needle fascicles.
comes from an excellent source for EVERYTHING fire ecological at the
following website:

With regard to wildfires out west, I share the same concerns, every time I
pick up the paper. Many of the wilderness areas explored in my youth have
had significant wildfires run through them. A grove of western red cedars
in the Trinity Alps (listed in Sudworth!) in particular I am anxious about.
Don't go see the Giant Sequoia's, as they will ruin you for any other tree!
Actually they're grand and you should, but be forewarned! If my recall
serves me, the first limb on the General Grant sequoia is over a hundred
foot up, and eleven foot in diameter (yes, diameter!).

Re N.Calif. wildernesses, I'd recommend the Trinity Alps, the Marble
Mountains and the Siskiyous for alpine wildernesses...Thousand Lakes and
Caribou Wildernesses (in close proximity to Mt Lassen NP), and a stretch of
the Sierras that starts in the North around Lake Tahoe, and goes south for
several hundred miles, virtually all wilderness at higher elevations. I
spent the most active part of my life trying to see it all and failed

If you've sampled Sudworth, download him all (or if you can find hardcopies,
by one), as I can think of no better guide than he, as he'll tell you at
what elevation in which drainages you can find Picea breweriana (Brewer's
spruce, found only as a relict species in hanging glacial valleys in the SW
Trinity Alps), and so on and so forth for other relict species, and species
more common. Choose a species of personal interest, consult Sudworth, and
challenge him...the species will be there! He did all of the book upon
being hired by the brand new Forest Service (check the book, seems to me it
was from 1903 to 1912) as the Chief Dendrologist, from horseback, on foot,
or with horse drawn wagon, from British Columbia to Baja California.
Awesome undertaking!
-Don B
Re: Ponderosa Pine   Rory Nichols
  Aug 13, 2002 23:50 PDT 

Ah, yes. I forgot all about hybridization. I don't think I have knowingly
run into that. I'd rather not even think about it, as it would confuse me
even more. How common is hybridization? Basically, wherever two closely
related species' ranges come together that is capable of hybridizing, can
and will do so?

Yeah, I can see what your saying about not seeing the sequoias. I've seen
the redwoods (Lost Monarch in particular, which I think has the largest
diameter for a redwood) and for a time, they ruined me when I looked at big
doug-firs. But now, I think that has worn off, thankfully.
eleven foot diameter branch!? I think I have heard that before and even if I
heard it one hundred more times it would still baffle me.

Today, I very quickly thumbed through Sudworth's book at the library. As
soon as I opened it up, a dissatisfying musty smell hit me. I told myself,
"Yep, that's it!" I'll have to scour the used book stores to find me a copy
as it appears to be a great source!

Re: Ponderosa Pine   Don Bertolette
  Aug 14, 2002 20:13 PDT 
While hybridization does have bounds within our characterization, it opens
up the topic. Some of the hybridization possibilities (like horse and
donkey hybrid is a sterile mule) aren't viable reproductively. In the plant
world, some might be desirable (a local grass, common name squirrel tail has
a montana variant of far greater availability for ecological
restorationists, with hybridization possible providing an advantage if
global warming scenarios result in colder climate here in Arizona), but for
those concerned about preserving biodiversity, maybe not.
Re Sudworth, the accounts of habit, habitat are without equal for the extent
of the west it covers. But perhaps an even more impressive feature is the
quality artwork (for my money, better than color photos)!
Re: Ponderosa Pine   Don Bertolette
  Nov 12, 2004 18:10 PST 

    Three hundred-year old ponderosas very in diameter from 21 to 57 inches. What they have in common is their age.   They are commonly called yellow pines, for their yellow bark, with large platy blocks, and deep furrows...common name for aspiring og, blackjacks, for their dark bark without platy blocks, or deep furrows...of course there is an interface where other characteristics come in to play...much like eastern og, the branch dimensions are a cue, and particular to ponderosas, a rounded stag-headed crown displaying the history of winter inclemency, and wind event weathering for those bold enough to display emergent crowns.