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Trees of Yosemite (1932, 1948) by Mary Curry Tresidder


Jeffrey Pine

Pinus ponderosa var. Jeffreyi Vasey

Jeffrey Pine Cones. Slightly Less Than 1/2 Natural Size
Jeffrey Pine Cones
Slightly Less Than 1/2 Natural Size

Whether the Jeffrey is a separate species or is a variety of P. ponderosa, which it resembles closely “in habits and soil and climatic requirements,”* is a moot point among students of trees; we assume the latter.

At its best it is a massive tree, its bole clear for perhaps a third of the trunk, then shaded by a few large horizontal limbs, and topped by smaller branches curving upward into a rounded; even a flattened, crown, which contrasts with the sharper, more irregular tip of the Ponderosa Pine. Transition forms of the two trees make it difficult to write down a hard and fast description. The foliage of the Jeffrey seems to be blue-green as against a yellowish-green, and that of the Jeffrey seems more dense than that of the Ponderosa Pine. Both have needles in bundles of threes, but, according to Sudworth, who considers it a different species, the needles of the Jeffrey remain on the tree for from five to eight years, and those of the Ponderosa for about three years. A technical feature of difference is that a certain pine beetle is found only on the Jeffrey and not on the other type. The cone of the Jeffrey provides the easiest means of differentiation, when that is available. On the tree, Jeffey Pine cones have almost from the beginning a strongly purplish cast, in contrast to the greenish hue of the cone of the Ponderosa Pine. The Jeffrey cone, too, is much larger and more rounded than that of the Ponderosa; it ranges from four to eleven inches in length, and its shape is much like that of a beehive. The bark of the Jeffrey is darker and more roughened, its plates of scales are smaller, and, at its higher ranges especially, it has a richer color than does the other. Compare them side by side if possible, as in Sentinel Meadow.

There are a number of Jeffrey Pines on the floor of Valley, particularly along the Merced River, near the wide pool in Camp Six and between the river and Yosemite Lodge, but the Ponderosa Pine prevails. In Little Yosemite, on the other hand, the Jeffrey is the predominating member of the family, and its fine, open stands lend much of the charm to that valley. The often-photographed wind-swept tree on Sentinel Dome is a Jeffrey Pine. Like the giant Ponderosa Pine, it has suffered much at the hands of its admirers, and may not long survive.

* Sudworth, Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope, page 9.



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