P. ponderosa is a large coniferous evergreen tree. The bark helps to distinguish it from other species. Mature to over-mature individuals have yellow to orange-red bark in broad to very broad plates with black crevices. Younger trees have blackish brown bark, referred to as "blackjacks" by early loggers. Ponderosa pine's five races can be identified by their characteristic bright green needles (contrasting with bluish green needles that distinguish Jeffrey pine). The Pacific race has longest (19.8 cm/7.8 in), most flexible needles in plume-like fascicles of three. The Columbia ponderosa pine has long (12.0–20.5 cm/4.7–8.1 in), relatively flexible needles in fascicles of three. The Rocky Mountains race has short (9.2–14.4 cm/3.6–5.7 in), stout needles growing in scopulate (bushy, tuft-like) fascicles of two to three. The Southwestern race has longer (11.2–19.8 cm/4.4–7.8 in) stout needles in fascicles of three (2.7-3.5). The central high plains race is characterized by fewest needles (1.4 per whorl), stout, upright branching at narrow angles from the trunk; long green needles (14.8–17.9 cm/5.8–7.0 in) extending farthest along the branch, resembling a fox tail; needles are widest, stoutest, and fewest (2.2-2.8) for the species.
For the developers at New York start-up Networked Organisms, smartphones are the butterfly nets of the 21st Century. Their tool, Project Noah, lets people upload photos of plants and wildlife around them, creating a map of the natural world and contributing to scientific research in the process.
Bespectacled scientists of yore would carry around hefty field guides, made up of hundreds of pages of text and photos. But these days, smartphone owners have a lighter option: an app called Project Noah, which aims to help people identify plants and animals as well as collect data from "citizen scientists" about where certain species are located.
Project Noah enables us to be part of a more focused online community where we can learn more about wildlife around us and contribute to scientific research. It pulls participants into deeper, more meaningful engagement by enabling people to go on “missions” to collectively map changes based on sightings.
A modern invention that may also hold the key to saving species in the future. Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter, using a purpose built phone app and web community. In addition to the virtual "collection" of species, Project Noah encourages citizen science by linking up with existing surveys including the International Spider Survey and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.