Not native to Iowa, the ponderosa pine occurs widely throughout the Rocky Mountain region. It is one of our largest pines, reaching a height of 150 or more in its native habitat. It is hardy, drought resistant and has been planted some in western Iowa for windbreaks and ornamental use.
Hardiness: Zones 3 through 7
Growth Rate: Moderate
Mature Shape: Irregular
Height: 60-100 feet
Width: 25-30 feet
Site Requirements: Adapted to a wide range of sites including rocky dry alkaline and salty sites except for sites with excessive moisture or poor drainage
Flowering Dates: April - June
Seed Dispersal Dates: August - September
Seed Bearing Age: 16 to 20 years
Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 2 to 5 years
Seed Stratification: No stratification period is needed.
The 5- to 8-inch yellow-green needles are coarse and quite stiff. The needles can occur in bundles of two and threes on the same tree.
The tan-brown cone is 3 to 6 inches long and armed with stout, slender barbs, usually hooked backward. The bottom portion of the cone scales often stay attached to the limb when the cone falls.
The twigs are short, thick and often many branched. On young trees the bark is dark brown to nearly black and is broken into ridges. On older trees the bark becomes orange colored to cinnamon red.