Montana State Tree

State Tree of Montana

Ponderosa Pine 

Montana Ponderosa Pine

The Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) is Montana’s state tree. It’s a large coniferous pine tree that can grow from 50 to 180 feet tall. The tallest of the trees are about 150 years old. 

Found all over Western Montana, these stately trees change as the tree ages. The color of the bark helps distinguish it from other pine trees. Older trees have yellow to orangy-bark, which give the nickname of “yellow pine” to these trees. Young ponderosa pines are sometimes called “black jack” or “bull pine.” 

It became the official tree in Montana in 1949, many years after the Montana’s school children voted it as the tree that best represented the state. 



Leaf

Evergreen, 5 to 10 inches long, with three (sometimes 2) tough, yellow-green
needles per fascicle. When crushed, needles have a turpentine odor sometimes
reminiscent of citrus.

Flower

Monoecious; males yellow-red, cylindrical, in clusters near ends of
branches; females reddish at branch tips.

Fruit

Cones are ovoid, 3 to 6 inches long, sessile, red-brown in color, armed
with a slender prickle. Maturing August to September.

Twig

Stout, orange in color, turning black. Buds often covered with resin.

Bark

Very dark (nearly black) on young trees, developing cinnamon-colored plates and deep furrows.

Form

A large tree with an irregular crown, eventually developing a flat top
or short conical crown. Ponderosa pine self-prunes well and develops a clear bole.

 

Copyright 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental
Conservation; Text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen,
Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson;Silvics reprinted from Ag
Handbook 654; range map source information