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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Ponderosa Pine - Pinus ponderosa

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 4

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Widespread and abundant across low-elevations in most of Montana.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/25/2012
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score0 - Large: Generally >100,000 individuals.

    Range Extent

    Score0 - Widespread species within Montana (occurs in 5% or more of the state or generally occurring in 6 or more sub-basins.) as well as outside of Montana.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score0 - High: Occurs in >25 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    Environmental Specificity

    Score0 - Low: Species is a generalist that occurs in a variety of habitats and/or is tolerant of disturbed or degraded habitats (C -Values of 1-4).


    ScoreNA - Rank factor not assessed.


    Score0 - Low: Impacts, if any, to the species are expected to be minor or insignificant (affecting <10% of populations) in severity, scope and immediacy.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0 - Low Vulnerability: Species does not have any unusual or specific life history or biological attributes or limted reproductive potential which makes it susceptible to extirpation from stochastic events or other adverse impacts to its habitat and thus slow to recover.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 0 points scored out of a possible 16 (Rarity factors and threats only).

General Description
Large trees to 65 m tall with an open, rounded crown and spreading branches. Bark of old trees thick, furrowed, covered with scales that resemble pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Leaves yellow-green, 7–25 cm long, 2–3 per fascicle, clustered on branch ends. Seed cones broadly ovoid, 7–15 cm long. Scales thick with a terminal prickle. Seeds with a conspicuous wing. Our plants are var. scopulorum (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range

Range Comments
Across most of MT; BC to NE south to Mexico (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4280

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Drier forests as well as rocky exposures (especially sandstone) associated with grasslands; plains, valleys to montane (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Howard, J. L. 2003. Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online}. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
    • Lunan, J.S. 1972. Phytosociology and fuel description of Pinus ponderosa communities in Glacier National park. M.S. thesis. Department of Botany, University of Montana, Missoula. 79 pp.
    • Squillace, A. E. 1953. Effect of squirrels on the supply of ponderosa pine seed. USDA For. Serv., N. Rocky Mtn. Exp. Sta., Res. Note 131. 4 pp.
    • Storm, Gerald L. 1963. Porcupine damage in ponderosa pine stands of western Montana. M.S. Thesis, University of Montana, Missoula. 149 pp.
    • Tackle, D. 1957. Protection of ponderosa pine cones from cutting by the red squirrel. J. For. 55:446-447.
    • Willard, E.E. and R.H. Wakimoto. 1990. Monitoring post-fire vegetation recovery in ponderosa pine and sedge meadow communities. P. 31 in K. Dimont, comp., Science in Glacier National Park, Glacier Natural History Assoc., West Glacier, MT. 52 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Ponderosa Pine — Pinus ponderosa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from