Montana Outdoors

June 5, 2010

Very important “flowers”.

Filed under: Trees — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 10:49 pm

The Ponderosa pines in our area are now “flowering” and the air at times can seem like it’s full of pollen. For those not familiar with them, Ponderosas are very large trees which can grow up to 150 feet tall and over 4 feet in diameter and which have life-spans of up to 600 years. Ponderosa forests provide important winter ranges for many species of wildlife including deer, elk and Big Horn sheep and the seeds are used by birds and small mammals. They produce a light softwood which has been widely used in home construction.

Their “flowers” are quite distinctive and are not actually flowers at all but cones, and these trees are monoecious which means that each tree has both male and female reproductive units. (A cone is an organ on coniferous trees that contains the reproductive structures.) The male cones produce pollen and the female cones produce seeds.

Ponderosa PineMale cones are yellow-red, cylindrical, in clusters near ends of branches.

Ponderosa PineFemale cones are reddish at branch tips.

Ponderosa Pine

Interestingly, although they are quite distinctive, the pine “flowers” often go unnoticed by many folks who actually live around the trees.

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