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A large, straight tree with a wide, open, irregularly cylindrical crown. The narrow to broad pyramidal crown on young trees flattens out on old trees with lower branch loss. The bark on the young trees is blackish or dark red-brown, and on mature trees yellow brown to russet broken up into deep, irregular fissures. The thick bark makes it very resistant to wild fires. Dark gray-green, olive or yellow green needles. The reddish brown or cone scales have prickly tips. Ponderosa pine grows best in full sun and deep, moist, well drained soil, but will adapt to a wide range of soil and growing conditions including alkaline, dry, low humidity, wind,and high elevation. It is highly drought tolerant once established.