Follow my adventures in and explorations of Kamloops, British Columbia. 

Pondering Ponderosa

Monday, January 18, 2021 flora and fauna

Pinus ponderosa, spiky and jubilant even in winter. Inspired by the Dendrology episode with J. Casey Clapp on one of my favourite podcasts, "Ologies," I wanted to know more about the coniferous flora I see out on the trail. As I wandered through the Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park and Blackwell trails in Kamloops, I pondered: What makes the Ponderosa special?

ponderosa pine hike 1. Ponderosa pine is second only to the Douglas fir in terms of drought resistance. It's common in the hot, dry southern Interior of British Columbia. 

2. Ponderosa's long, spiny needles occur in clusters of three. That's unlike the Lodgepole pine, whose needles occur in clusters of two (Lodgepole needles are also shorter). 

3. Ponderosa's bark is thick, scaly, and dark. That thick bark protects it from forest fires. By the way, the layer underneath the bark is cambium. In the winter, its slower growth forms the tree's visible rings. The oldest rings are the closest to the centre. 

4. Ever had toasted pine nuts on your pasta or salad? Yum! Aboriginal people not only ate these seeds, but also the inner bark of the Ponderosa pine. The sticky pitch was also mixed with bear grease to produce an ointment for sores.

5. Where did it get its name? David Douglas, Scottish botanist and man of Douglas fir fame, named it Ponderosa because of its ponderous size. Ponderosa is also known as yellow pine. 

Like you, I probably learned these things in elementary school but have since forgotten. Now, I see Ponderosa pines with renewed respect. These are tough trees!

Want to learn more about Ponderosa pine? Here's where I found my facts:

Mike Ryan's Plants of the Kamloops Area

Roberta Parish's Tree book: Learning to recognize trees of British Columbia


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