Ponderosa Pine Zone

Animals

Aberts-squirrelAbert's Squirrel: Abert's squirrels lose the tassels on their ears in the summer. These squirrels are recognizable by their tuffed ears, gray fur, pale underparts, and reddish brown patches on their lower backs. Abert's squirrels feed on pinyon nuts and Ponderosa cones when available, as well as fungi, buds, and bark.

 

Greater_Short-Horned_LizardGreater Short-Horned Lizard: These horned lizards are found from 4,000 to 11,000 feet. These lizards are most commonly spotted in sunny patches within the Ponderosa pine forest around Flagstaff. Greater short-horned lizards are sit-and-wait predators that eat mostly ants, but also grasshoppers or beetles. These lizards rely on camouflage to avoid predators. Greater short-horned lizards can build up blood pressure behind their eyes and squirt blood at attacking predators.

Mule_Deer_FawnMule Deer: Mule deer are found throughout Northern Arizona's forests. Fawns are weaned and lose their spots at an age of 60-75 days. Mule deer have black-tipped tails and antlers that fork as they grow. Although mule deer eat mostly vegetation from shrubs and trees, they also consume grasses, nuts, and berries.

 

Stellers_Jay_cropped (1)Steller's Jay: These raucous birds technically range from as low as 3,000 feet to the tree line, but are far more common within the Ponderosa pine forest than in other life zones. Steller's jays primarily live in coniferous forests and in the fall will travel to oak woods when acorns have fallen. These birds eat pinyon nuts and berries, small rodents, eggs, nestlings, and sometimes small lizards and snakes.

 

 

Trees
Ponderosa
Ponderosa Pines: Ponderosa pines are the dominant tree in the Ponderosa Pine Zone, and in some zones are almost pure stance - the only trees present in those life zones. These trees are adapted for fire: fire is a natural part of their ecosystem. Ponderosa pines don't have branches near the ground, they lose their branches. These trees have thick bark, and if the fire isn't too hot, they have an excellent chance of survival. Ponderosa pines change color as they age. They start out gray and become yellow and get thicker as they get older.

Alligator JuniperAlligator Juniper: Alligator junipers are recognized by their distinctive bark. They respond to fires by crown sprouting (growing up from their root mass), so they can survive fires. Alligator Junipers grow best in dry soils and at moderate altitudes. Alligator junipers have very distinctive bark; dark, gray-brown, hard, and cracked, resembling alligator skin.

 

Gambel OakGambel Oak: This tree is recognized by its oak leaves, and unlike the confiers, it drops its leaves in the winter. Gambel oaks do best in sun with rocky, alkaline soil, with little competition from other plants. After a fire, Gambel oaks reestablish themselves from root spouts. Gambel oaks are also very drought tolerant.

 

 

Flora

Eriogonum umbellatumEriogonum umbellatum
Sulphur Flower Buckwheat is an attractive plant to a variety of birds and bees. It produces bright sulfur-yellow flowers from April to September. It has been used as a fumigant and emetic by the Kayenta Navajo and by many Native American tribes for a variety of ailments.

 

Symphoricarpos oreophilusSymphoricarpos oreophilus
Mountain snowberry produces paired pink flowers May to August which are followed by white berries. Native Americans have used the fruits as an emetic and laxative.