Return to Native Trees of Colorado
Distinguishing the native Colorado Pines
by S. K. Wier
All pines of Colorado have needles in bundles of two or more. Spruce and Fir tree needles are single.
Needles over 3 1/2 inches long (needles are in bundles of two or three):
Ponderosa Pine. Any native southern Rocky Mountain conifer with a needle over 4 inches long is a Ponderosa pine.
Needles in bundles of two, rarely three, usually 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. Tree often stubby, robust, and under 30 feet high. Typical of lower elevations (below 7500 feet) and on dry sites, in arid shrubby forests and the lower margins of the mountain forests:
Needles in bundles of two, usually 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long. Tree usually tall and the trunk very slender, but sometimes short and thick-limbed. Typical of upper mountain forests, above 7000 feet elevation:
Needles in bundles of five, usually 1 to 1 1/2 inches long; needles and cones speckled with white resin drops; a long, slender bristle on the tip of each cone scale; cones less than 3 1/2 inches long:
Needles in bundles of five, usually 1 1/2 to 3 inches long; no bristles on cones, mature cones very pale brown and 3 to 10 inches long; usually found in the higher mountain forests often on exposed or rocky and windy sites, though rarely found elsewhere:
Same as Limber Pine but cones 6 to inches long, tree form upright and straight:
Southwestern pine. (New Mexico and southern Colorado)
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2001, 2011 S. K. Wier
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