Winter Tree Study – Our Ponderosa Pines!

“Of all pines, this one gives forth the finest music to the winds.” John Muir

Ponderosa Pine Winter Tree Study

Our local forest is populated with predominately two different pines: the lodge pole and the ponderosa. Of the two, the ponderosa is my favorite! When the forest is cleared, either by man or fire, the ponderosa pines are so beautifully placed just like in a park. They give each other enough room to grow and flourish. Their colorful bark is highlighted especially with snow on the ground. We decided it was about time we took a closer look at this special tree.

Ponderosa Pine in the snow

In the winter season, with a proper frosting of snow, the ponderosa pine is like the quintessential pine of your imagination. It grows with a beautifully colored straight trunk with limbs reaching out at just the right intervals. Plus the needles are long and bundled and the cones are just the right size for holding in the palm of your hand.

ponderosa pine cones at tahoe

Image from my archives – Fun day at Tahoe

I remember learning that little trick to identifying the cones….palm size = ponderosa.

So, using our field guide, we set out to learn some new facts about the ponderosa pine. What an incredibly important tree here in Oregon! Not just for lumber but also as a part of the habitat for many birds and animals.

La Pine State Park big tree

Big Ponderosa Pine at La Pine State Park, Oregon

We just happen to have the largest ponderosa pine in Oregon not far from our house and it’s a pleasant stroll out into the forest to see it.

Ponderosa Pines in the snow

I love the habitat of the ponderosa pine and the creatures that live there. Some of my favorite family times hiking have been under these amazing trees not just here in Oregon but in California, Utah, and Nevada.

Ponderosa Pine nature journal


You can read our ponderosa pine cone study here: Ponderosa Pine Cone. You can download the printable notebook page here: Winter Cone Study.

If you would like to complete your own winter tree study this year, you can click the button below for suggestions using the Handbook of Nature Study.

“At least one pine tree should be studied in the field. Any species will do, but the white pine is the most interesting.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 674


Do you have a pine to study this season?





Here are two books I own and love. Please note they are affiliate links.

OHC Winter Tree Study Using the Handbook of Nature Study

This week, read in the Handbook of Nature Study about winter tree nature study and then use the suggestions in the lesson as you take a few minutes outside with your children. You might want to consider looking at an evergreen tree this season since the Outdoor Hour Challenge this past autumn was to look at a deciduous tree. Make some comparisons!

tree cones snow winter

Simple Suggestions for Winter Tree Study

1. Pick a tree in your yard or on your street and view its branch patterns and silhouette.
2. Find a tree that has lost its leaves and sketch its shape in your nature journal. This activity can be done from a window if your weather is too cold or snowy.
3. Collect some seeds from trees that may still be left over from last season. Look for sweet gum, locust, yellow poplar, ash, mimosa, or sycamore. If you’re studying an evergreen tree, look for cones! See this OHC for more ideas to use with cones: Winter Tree Cone.
4. Collect twigs from different trees and compare them.


Read the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Study.

Make sure to note the links and additional resources suggested for your tree study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Tree Nature Study Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Check the Handbook of Nature Study index for the tree you observe this week or use the tree tab at the top of my website to see if there is an archived Outdoor Hour Challenge for you to use in your study.

Winter Nature Study ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

Please note this challenge is found in the Winter Series ebook found in the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Log into your membership and scroll down to the ebook download link. Included in the ebook, there is a custom notebook page for this challenge.

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us


You can find the complete plan for this school year in all levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study. Also, if you have an Ultimate or Journey level membership, there’s a file in your library that has all of this year’s notebook pages in one file.

nb bundle 1


Winter Nature Study eBooks and Promotion

Winter Nature Study with the Outdoor Hour Challenge

I just finished editing all of the winter ebooks in the Ultimate Naturalist Library. I love that task because it reminds me of all the fantastic winter nature study ideas available in the four winter themed ebooks in the archives.

With forty challenges perfect for winter, your family could successfully add a study or two each week by using the suggestions in the Outdoor Hour Challenge and then follow up with a custom notebooking page. This can be a busy time of year so with the complete nature study lesson planned out for you in advance, you can pick a topic and easily fill in an afternoon with refreshing outdoor time. There are topics to fit every habitat and every interest.

Make a plan now to include some fun nature study activities during the winter months using the ideas in the Outdoor Hour Challenges and the Handbook of Nature Study!

Winter Nature Study ebooks graphic and promo


If you’re new to the Outdoor Hour Challenge, you can find all four of the ebooks in the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. (See below for a discount code to use with your purchase!)

I’ll list the winter themed ebooks below and if you want to click over to see the specific topics covered, you can easily do that by clicking the book title.

Winter Nature Study Ebooks Available

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudy

For a complete list of winter season nature study topics, you can click the winter tab at the top of the website.



OHC Winter Promotion Code Discount

Use the discount code WINTERFUN for $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Code will expire on 12/10/18.


Benefits by Level Updated size 500

If you’d like to have access to all of the winter ebooks, you’ll find them in the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

In addition to the winter books, there are 16 additional nature study ebooks in this membership.


OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

This year we’re going to cover the four series noted in the graphic above: Autumn 2009, Winter Series 2010, Garden Flowers and Plants, and More Nature Study – Summer.  Click the graphic to read more about the year’s plan.