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.


  1. It must be a sight to see Ponderosa pines! I do like pine trees of every kind and have a few small varieties growing in my yard. I really, really like the last photograph with the colorful pine flowers–What a sharp and detailed image and wonderful composition!


    Comment by Anna — June 6, 2010 @ 7:03 am

    • Many of the big pines have fallen victim to logging over the past century, but back in the roadless areas there remain some of the really big ones and they are simply awesome. We share the property we live on with two large ones and consider them a real treasure.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:09 am

  2. Wow, they are much larger than our white pine, and certainly more stately. The pollen is bad here, too. And, being at the end of the jet stream we get pollen up here from below us, even before it starts locally.


    Comment by sandy — June 6, 2010 @ 7:27 am

    • The trees are pollinating here right now and it’s very noticeable on sidewalks, roads and car windows and it can be terrible for those who wear contacts. I wonder if you get any pollen from this far away.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:14 am

  3. Wow – some interesting ones there. I love pinecones….especially those big fat ones … and then I love them even more when they are scented with cinnamon during Christmas!!


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — June 6, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    • These don’t have really big cones, but there are plenty for decorating. I usually collect a whole cart load each time before I mow the grass.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  4. Really cool. We have some sort of pine in our backyard that has flowers similar to that on it but they are more brownish.


    Comment by Candace — June 6, 2010 @ 10:53 am

    • For many years when we lived there we bought live Goldwater Pines which we used for Christmas trees and then planted them. They did very well and we had beautiful trees around the yard.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  5. Great shots! We have a pine tree next door and I’ve noticed those infant cones. Glad to see you are noticing the small things in nature.


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — June 6, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

    • The “flowers” are small of course compared to the size of the tree, but nevertheless visible. I always look for them anyway. Some of the firs have very bright red flowers and I usually forget to get photos of them.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  6. Very cool to see the science behind these guys’ reproduction. Never ceases to amaze me.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — June 6, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

    • The survival strategies of the conifers seem to work very well. THey have adaptations for just about anything except logging and development.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  7. one of my most favorite “flowers”… thanks for the great shots.


    Comment by Cedar — June 7, 2010 @ 9:13 am

    • Mine too, Cedar. One of the things I like the most about living where I do is the 100 ft tall pines out front.


      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  8. again montucky this is all very interesting. are all pines this way? we don’t have pine trees in our yard but I’ve not seen the female type cones before. then again, maybe I’m just not paying attention…


    Comment by silken — June 9, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    • I don’t really know, but I know the Lodgepole and it is quite different.


      Comment by montucky — June 9, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

  9. […] Very &#1110m&#1088&#959rt&#1072&#1495t “flowers”. « Montana Outdoors […]


    Pingback by Ontario’s Cottage Country goes upscale — June 9, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

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