Named for its ponderous (heavy) wood, the ponderosa pine is a hardy evergreen that can live up to 500 years old and grow to be over 200 feet tall; making them one of the Southwest's tallest trees. Mature trees are easily identifiable by their thick rusty-orange bark which releases a sweet aroma similar to butterscotch or vanilla. This thick bark helps the tree to be both fire and frost resistant. Their long pine needles also have a waxy coating and contain antifreeze proteins which further helps them survive frosty times.
Evergreens like the ponderosa pine provide important winter shelter for non-migratory birds and other local wildlife.