Ponderosa Pine : Overview

Full Ponderosa

This Ponderosa looks tall and healthy at the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. (Walter Siegmund)

By Madison Dell

The name Ponderosa comes from the Latin word ponderosus, meaning large and heavy. The Ponderosa pine is in fact quite large and is the most widely distributed pine in North America. This beautiful pine is easy to identify because of its vibrantly colored bark and irregularly shaped canopy. It has been treasured by Native Americans for its many uses, ranging from medicine to snowshoes. Native Americans and early settlers alike used the tree as a major source of lumber. What makes the Ponderosa even more unique is its extremely high drought tolerance and resistance to fire. It is an evolutionary success without a doubt, but sadly the traits that make it so special are beginning to disappear in the newer generations of the tree. Ponderosas are suffering from the environmental effects of increasing modernization and technological innovation, an issue that has recently been acknowledged and is starting to be addressed.