Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ponderosa Pine, Norway Pine, Big Pine, Western Yellow Pine
Pinus ponderosa

Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pinus (PY-nus) (Info)
Species: ponderosa (pon-der-OH-suh) (Info)

Synonym:Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

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over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Joan
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There are a total of 25 photos.
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7 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive charlotte59 On Mar 4, 2012, charlotte59 from Spokane, WA wrote:

I need help. Here in Spokane, many residential areas are canopied with the native ponderosas that were here before the houses were here. Although it is a tiny percentage of the "forest," a number of them do topple during winter storms. This generally happens when high winds (to 55 mph) follow precipitation that has resulted in water-soaked soil. Along with some firs, an oak and a maple, I have three ponderosas. All three are good-sized, but one is a huge, beautiful, healthy-looking tree that must be pretty old, though. I don't know how to care for the trees during the other three seasons to keep them standing. Should I water them deeply so their roots won't be too shallow to hold the tree fast during the storms? Or should I give them the summer drought that nature intends? (This is NOT Seattle.) The big old guy is in the middle of the lawn, and, while the main lawn is basking in a perfect watering schedule, the grass around him gets really crispy really, really fast during the summer, which makes me think that his drinking apparatus it VERY close to ground-level. That can't be good, can it? What watering strategy will keep these big babies in the ground?

Positive Larch16 On Aug 29, 2011, Larch16 from Kamloops, BC (Zone 5a) wrote:

We have 3 large ponderosa pines in our yard. They are beautiful trees and are very rewarding. Every time we go outside, the trees are full of wildlife. We see squirrels, chipmunks, sparrows, etc. They also provide good shade and give privacy to the yard. We haven't had any problems with these trees and highly recommend them for large yards.

Positive Malus2006 On Feb 27, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Upper Midwest United States Note:

Ponderosa Pine is increasing popular in the plant trade - even for the Twin Cities - northern range stock plants are used for zone 3 and 4, even zone 5. Will tolerate a wide range of conditions so keep constantly moist won't apply to this species. Grows on mountain slope and decend down the mountain into areas where the levels of moisture is sufficient to make them grow so they have good drought tolerance but need to be watered from time to time. Competitions from Austrian Pine and Red Pine, 2 other long needle species of pine commonly grown in zone 4 and low public knowledge keep sales of this species at presently in third place for long needle pines.

For Upper Midwest ID:

Red Pines have shorter needles that break cleanly when you bend them. Ponderosa Pine have considerable longer needles which range from 5 to 10 inches long - almost a foot at its upper length! Red Pines have needles 4 to 6 inches long so needle length id is not alway good. Unless you live in the Black Hills or other similiar but smaller environment where Ponderosa Pine is the dominant species in North and South Dakota, Ponderosa Pine is very rare in the wild for the Upper Midwest as their seedlings compete very poorly in the wild against other plants in Eastern United States. The barks of Red Pine and Ponderosa pine is reddish so id can be a bit more difficult unless you throughly read books and find specific key points - I am not going to list them - I'm leaving them to other people.

Austrian or European Black Pine have dark brown bark that can become gray to gray brown with age so is clearly id from Ponderosa Pine and Red Pine. Needles is 3 to 5 inches long, just within the range for long needle pines and can withstand city conditions and a wide range of soil conditions. Author MIchael Dirr claim there is severe dieback in this species in Midwest and Eastern States - I don't have any more information on this.

Eastern White Pine is very easy to id because it have soft needles that is comfortable to the touch and won't cause any kind of pain or scratch the skin and have bluish green needles so I felt that it is very noticeable different from Ponderosa Pine to compare with even though Eastern White Pine is a long needle species.

There is more long needle pines - I am going to list as best as I can - If you think a certain species of long needle pine is more common grown outside of speciment gardens and arboretums in zone 4 and even 3 please tell me. I will list even doubtful zones as books tend to be biased against zone 4( often reporting as zone 5 for uncommon nonnative species - one common example is Golden striped Hakone Grass) because of zone 4's low population density - even smaller in Europe and Asia. If one of the species listed below repeatly dies more than one time in various locations or decline more than growing in zone 4 and requires extra special attention - [wrapping with special fabric (often used for certain yew varieties and dwarf Alberta Spruce here in Twin Cities) is not consider extra special attention] please tell me and I will remove the species from the list. Dwarfs and Minatures are more fuzzy with zone hardiness as they can be protected easier compare to standard trees.

Pinus peuce Balkan or Macedonian Pine zone 4 to 7 is part of the White Pine group and have needles 3 to 4 inches long.

Pinus heldreichii Bosnian Pine 3 inches needles, short needle or long needle? 3 inches seem to be a fuzzy line between short needle and long needle. Reports of hardiness vary with one source saying 4 to 6, another says 6 to 8. I checked out Plant Files and it only said zone 5.

Pinus parviflora Japanese White Pine zone 4? More used as a dwarf or minature - mature tree unknown. Also I have seen old names peuce and pentaphylla be used for species.

Pinus bungeara Lacebark Pine zone 4? 5-7b. This is a variable species with needles 2 ot 4 inches long so can be either short needle or long needle? It depends on what the more frequent needle lengths are.

Pinus monticola Western White Pine zone 4 to 9 but Eastern United States zone hardiness is unknown. Long needle

Pinus tabuliformis Chinese Red Pine zone 4? 5 - 10. Seem like most sources list this as zone 5 but description of native habitation sound like might have zone 4 populations.

Positive WallaceR On Jan 11, 2005, WallaceR from La Pine, OR wrote:

The Ponderosa Pine can grow in excess of 150 feet tall.

Positive 433kfj On Nov 13, 2004, 433kfj from klamath falls, OR (Zone 6a) wrote:

I don't know where they got the name "Norway Pine" from because this is "THE" native pine of western america. This is one of the largest pines that grow anywhere in the world. THE largest pine, frome my understanding, is the sugar-pine, and they can grow HUGE by any tree's comparison, except, of course, the red-wood and sequoia, which aren't pines. Eastern Oregon wouldn't be what it is if it wasn't for the "yellow-belly" pine. In early logging days , they called the young, black-barked trees "bull-pine", thinking they where a different kind that were chocking out the "yellow-bellies". My dad still calls them "bull-pine" but I have since shown him that they are only young ponderosa and they don't get a "yellow-belly" untill they're about 150 yrs old. This "bull-pine" stage is all anyone can hope for if you plant one in your yard. To see the tree as it grows to its full hight you need to go where there are still stands left. Many have been logged from here but there are some good stands left if you know where to look.

Positive shawnkilpatrick On Apr 30, 2004, shawnkilpatrick from Yucca Valley, CA wrote:

Although few in number, this pine grows well in the high desert areas of southern California. The Poderosas grow straight and maintain thick, green needles during the winters here, unlike the more common Eldarica and Aleppo Pines. I have two at my place in Yucca Valley (4000' Elv.) where we have blistering summers and dry, bone chilling winters. It's a shame they are not more commercially available for landscaping purposes in this area.

Positive Joan On Jun 6, 2003, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Grows very well in zone 3 and 4. Doesn't mind poor sandy soil and is pretty drought tolerant.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Flagstaff, Arizona
Prescott, Arizona
Amador City, California
Chico, California
Sacramento, California
Yucca Valley, California
Boulder, Colorado
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Belfield, North Dakota
Dickinson, North Dakota
Bend, Oregon
Klamath Falls, Oregon
La Pine, Oregon
Livingston, Texas
Orem, Utah

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