Yellow pine, or Ponderosa - affordable exotic for the middle lane
There are about 130 species of pine trees in the world. In the middle zone, common pine grows, whose appearance has become quite commonplace for us. Black and mountain pines, although they have many fundamental differences, are nevertheless very similar in appearance to the common pine. Pines with a more exotic appearance grow much farther south, which means it’s risky to grow them. Nevertheless, thanks to the introduction, some exotic species can survive our harsh winters. In my garden, for many years now, an amazing yellow pine tree with giant needles has been growing successfully. I will talk about the features of its cultivation in this article.
The name of the species can be misleading for beginning gardeners, because it is very easy to think that the tree has yellow needles. Yellow coniferous pines really exist. For example, the mountain pine Wintergold has bright yellow needles that become most expressive in the winter.
However, the pine has a yellow needle of traditional green color, and the species owes this name to the yellowish bark. In fact, yellow pine has many names: bull pine, Oregon, “black Jack”, large pine, heavy pine, western long-leaved pine. But the scientific name of the breed sounds like yellow pine, or Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa).
In adulthood, Ponderosa pine is a tree 18-39 meters tall (some specimens reached 80 meters) with a trunk diameter of 80 to 120 centimeters (maximum 250 centimeters). The crown is conical or oval, not too thick, its diameter can reach 3 meters.
The color of the bark varies from yellow to reddish-brown, its texture is strongly furrowed and forms wide rectangular scaly plates with age. At the base, the branches are descending, but as they approach the crown they have an ascending type of growth.
The most remarkable feature of the tree is the needles. The needles of yellow pine have a very impressive length of 7 to 25 centimeters and a thickness of 1.2-2 millimeters. The length of the needles of individual specimens discovered by botanists reached 30 cm! Needles are collected in bunches from two to 5 pieces, an average of 3 pieces. The needles are stored on the tree for 4-6 years.
Cones of this breed also deserve attention. In appearance, they are a bit like cedar. They have strong scales, brownish brown, and their length is about 15 centimeters. The shape of the cones is broadly conical, with lion seeds inside. On the branches, pine fruits are arranged in three. Due to the large size and noble appearance, yellow pine cones are very appreciated for the manufacture of various crafts and Christmas decorations. It takes two years to fully ripen the cones.
Interesting facts about yellow pine
Ponderosa pine is one of the best examples of excellent adaptation to a forest fire, which affects most members of the genus. Wildlife studies have shown that, due to frequent summer thunderstorms and the accumulation of pine needles on forest litter, moderate-surface superficial fires can occur in yellow pine plantations about once every three years. At the same time, such fires do not damage adult specimens due to their thick fire-resistant bark, and young Ponderosa seedlings also have high survival rates thanks to a stable root system.
The yellow pine can be easily recognized by its unusual smell, the bark and resin of Ponderosa pine has a scent with notes of vanilla or toffee.
Yellow Pine - A cult tree in the western United States. The houses of Ponderosa were built from wood and furniture was made for the first European settlers, its wood was used in steam locomotives and mines and played a huge role throughout the history of the rise of this country. Yellow pine is a state tree of Montana.
In the Bryce Canyon National Park in the USA, there is the Ponderosa Canyon, which got its name because of the huge yellow pines growing on the bottom of the canyon. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists come to this national park to admire these amazing pine trees of great height. The most gigantic specimens can be seen in the canyon "Ponderosa", although they grow throughout the national park.
Yellow pine - the most widespread and continuing to spread pine in North America. It is the main lumber in the USA. The Latin name of the pine “Panderosa” is translated as “heavy” pine, which is associated with the characteristics of the wood of this species.
Features of growing yellow pine
In the wild, Ponderosa pine mainly grows in the mountains and foothills in the west of the North American continent. Therefore, these pines will grow best on well-drained gravel or sandy soils, but also put up with clay soils. The most important thing is to provide the tree with good drainage and to avoid places with stagnation of water. This pine tree does not tolerate long rooting.
When choosing a landing site, you need to select the sunniest places, but it is better to provide her with such a location so that it is protected from the north winds.
At first, seedlings are often watered, but after the tree has taken root, it can only be watered during a period of prolonged drought. Usually unpretentious yellow pine develops quite well without the use of fertilizers, but mulching with coniferous litter and pine bark will help enrich the soil with additional organic substances.
Like all members of the pine family, Ponderosa pine can occasionally be affected by specific fungal diseases (shute, rust) and survive the onslaught of pests (pine sawfly, hermes, etc.).
Winter hardiness of yellow pine
Many gardeners are trying to grow yellow pine, and in particular in the suburbs. But unfortunately, according to their testimonies, the breed requires shelter, and in especially frosty winters the trees often die. This is due to the fact that initially the seedlings were brought from European nurseries, which means they were not ready for our climatic conditions.
According to botanical reference books, Ponderosa pine belongs to the 5th zone of frost resistance (up to - 28.9 ° C), and sometimes it is even assigned to the 6th zone (to - 23.3 ° C). So growing it in our latitudes, more suitable for plants of 3-4 zones, is risky.
According to Western sources, the most winter-hardy are those subspecies of yellow pine that grow east of the Cascade Mountains, in British Columbia, North and South Dakota, Colorado and Idaho. But if their parents were from California or Oregon, then such trees will definitely not survive the harsh winters of the middle lane.
Nevertheless, successfully introduced species exist on the territory of our country, as evidenced by adult yellow pines growing on the territory of the All-Russian Exhibition Center in Moscow. They do not look oppressed at all and have a fairly decent height. This suggests that the chances of “prescribing” Ponderosa for a long time are quite high. To do this, you need to purchase seedlings obtained from local acclimatized specimens. But if the origin of your seedling is unknown, it is better to provide him with shelter at least in the first years after planting.
Ponderosa Pine in the middle lane
For the first time, we met with yellow pine in a nursery at the Institute of Genetics of the city of Voronezh (All-Russian Research Institute of Forest Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology). Thanks to this nursery, which many years ago was engaged in the introduction of heat-loving conifers in the middle lane, today we have the opportunity to grow the amazing Ponderosa pine in our area.
The very first maternal specimen is still growing in this nursery and is a very beautiful tree with a pyramidal crown about 10 meters high, hung with large cones. It does not have any evidence of frost damage, which suggests that the yellow pine has fully acclimatized and is able to tolerate local harsh winters, despite its southern origin.
Later, the seedling of this stable (almost "local") pine settled in my garden. Now our yellow pine tree is already about 7 years old, and we do not cease to admire this beauty. Thanks to her bizarre appearance, we affectionately call her "porcupine", because her needles really can not leave indifferent. In our pine, they reach a length of 15-20 centimeters! That looks very exotic in our latitudes.
For all this time, the yellow pine did not have any serious problems. We never covered it for the winter, protecting it from the cold, never shaded it from spring sunburns and did not treat it for fungal diseases. Once a serious flood happened at our dacha, and we already mentally said goodbye to our tree, knowing about its negative attitude to humidity, but nevertheless this pine tree withstood the short-term rooting of the root system. And last year, we found on her a young soft pink bump!
The pine tree has a rather powerful annual growth and its length increases with age, in particular, last year it amounted to more than 30 centimeters on our tree. Currently, the height of the tree is about two meters. But, of course, in our area the pine of Ponderosa will never grow as a giant the height of a skyscraper (at the moment, the height of the largest specimen growing in the middle lane is 15 meters). Nevertheless, we annually form our “porcupine” pine so that it is wider and more fluffy. I am sure that over time Ponderosa will become the main decoration of the site.
Dear readers! If you like conifers, then be sure to plant the introduced yellow pine seedlings in your garden. Caring for it, by and large, is the same as for the usual local pine, but it causes much more enthusiasm.