Pinus ponderosa Forest & Woodland Alliance
Ponderosa pine forest and woodland

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormTree
  • Elevation300-2100 m
  • State RarityS4
  • Global RarityG5
  • DistributionCAN: BC. USA: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY. Mexico (NatureServe)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added1995/11/01

Characteristic Species

Pinus ponderosa is dominant or co-dominant in the tree canopy with Abies concolor, Calocedrus decurrens, Juniperus grandis, Juniperus occidentalis, Notholithocarpus densiflorus, Pinus contorta ssp. murrayana, Pinus coulteri, Pinus jeffreyi, Pinus lambertiana, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Quercus chrysolepis, Quercus kelloggii and Quercus wislizeni.

Vegetation Layers

Trees < 50 m; canopy is open to continuous. Shrub layer is open to continuous. Herbaceous layer is sparse, abundant, or grassy.

Membership Rules

  • Pinus ponderosa > 50% relative cover, hardwoods such as Quercus chrysolepis and Q. kelloggii are low in cover, if present (Klein et al. 2007).
  • Pinus ponderosa, the principal canopy species, > 10 % absolute cover. Quercus kelloggii, if present, substantially lower cover than P. ponderosa. Calocedrus decurrens, Abies concolor < 1% (Keeler-Wolf et al. 2003b).


All upland topography, floodplains, low-gradient depositions along streams, and raised benches. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (1996 national list) recognizes Pinus ponderosa as a FACU.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Ponderosa pine series, Stands on San Benito Mountain, Jeffrey pine-ponderosa pine series
NVCS (2009) Pinus ponderosa forest alliance, Pinus ponderosa temporarily flooded woodland alliance, Pinus ponderosa woodland alliance
Calveg Eastside pine, Yellow pine-Western juniper, Ponderosa pine, Ponderosa pine-White fir
Holland Upland Coast range ponderosa pine forest, Maritime Coast range ponderosa pine forest, Westside ponderosa pine forest, Eastside ponderosa pine forest, Ponderosa dune forest, Sierran mixed coniferous forest
Munz Yellow pine forest
WHR Eastside pine, Ponderosa pine
CDFW CA Code 87.010.00

National Vegetation Classification Hierarchy

Formation Class Mesomorphic Tree Vegetation (Forest and Woodland)
Formation Subclass Temperate Forest
Formation Cool Temperate Forest
Division Western North America Cool Temperate Forest
Macro Group Californian-Vancouverian Montane and Foothill Forest
Group Californian montane conifer forest