Alkaline, Drought, Loamy, Moist, Well Drained
The seeds provide food for birds and small mammals, particularly turkeys, nuthatches, crossbills, grosbeaks, pine siskins, grouse, squirrels, chipmunks and mice. The leaves, twigs and bark are browsed by porcupines, mule deer and elk. Snags (standing dead trees) provide a large number of wildlife species with nesting and roosting sites.
The Scottish botanist David Douglas named this pine for its ponderous or heavy wood. Other common names are yellow pine, western longleaf pine, bull pine, western red pine, western pitch pine, Sierra brownbark pine, ponderosa white pine and black jack pine.
Native Americans used this tree extensively. The inner bark was ground into emergency flour, and the young cones were boiled for emergency food. In the spring, the bark was scraped and eaten raw as a sweet treat. Inner bark gum was used for medicine. The needles were steeped to make a tea.
The ponderosa pine also provided canoes for Lewis and Clark after they crossed the Rocky Mountains into the headwaters of the Columbia River.