Widely distributed through the Rocky Mountains into Canada, in the Cascades, and in the mountains of California, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, ponderosa pine stands in the United States outnumber those of any other tree, except Douglas fir. Its range includes parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains a few miles south of Stanford. The 6-inch dark green needles are three to a cluster and the prickly cones are about 5 inches long. The tree closely resembles Jeffrey pine.
Pacific ponderosas (Pinus ponderosa subsp. benthamiana) and sugar pines (Pinus lambertiana) share the list of tallest pines in the world quite evenly. Each has pushed the other off the pedestal over the decades. In 2017, the grand prize for tallest pine goes to a Pacific ponderosa in the Sierras, 83.7 meters tall.
A pair of younger specimens are in Lathrop Park, well uphill from 809 Lathrop Drive (location). An old specimen with a 4-foot girth reported in the book in the northwest corner where Campus Drive crosses Palm Drive, 50 feet from the path leading to the Mausoleum and 27 feet from the Palm Drive footpath, was not found when checked on in 2019.
Name derivation: Pinus – Latin for pine; ponderosa – heavy (the wood).
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Tallest pine note updated Oct 2017 (SP). Old specimen in Arboretum noted as missing; all locations now current (SP, Jun 2019).