ROCKY MOUNTAIN PONDEROSA PINE
Pinus ponderosa subsp. scopulorum
family: Pine (Pinaceae)
> šéstótó'e, "coniferous tree" (Hart 1981: 6)
cones: šéstótó'emenȯtse, "coniferous tree berries" (Hart 1981: 6)
This subspecies of ponderosa pine is an evergreen tree, up to 40 m tall, with ovoid-conic crown. Deeply rough bark is flaking in slices. Shoots are thick, brownish or greenish, smooth, not glaucous. Needles are tied two or three together, cumulated at the tips of branches, dark green, 8–17 cm long, remaining three years. Cones are brown, 5–9 cm long, ovoid. They ripen in July and August next year. Seeds are brownish, 7–10 mm long, with seedwings 25 mm long. Rocky Mountains ponderosa pine grows on porous, sand or gravelly soils. It ranges in the mountains of Colorado, eastern Wyoming, western and northern Nebraska, the Black Hills area, southeast and central Montana.
Cheyennes ate the seeds of this pine. According to the Northern Cheyenne medicine man Wesley Whiteman, before pollen droped out young male cones was chewed. When the juice was sucked up the cones were spit out. Cheyennes used pine pitch to make the wind bridge of bone whistles. These whistles of eagle or crane wingbone was used in the Sun Dance Ceremony, dances of warrior societies, healing, and other occasions. The pine pitch was used to patch cracks in wooden flutes and for arranging hairs too. Also, it was engaged as a salve or ointment for sores and scabby skin. Ponderosa pine roots apparently gave a blue dye (Hart 1981: 6; Hodges 1980: 35–6; Schwartz 1989: 53).
John Stands in Timber (1967: 109) told about Crazy Mule’s experiments with an unknown plant. Crazy Mule drank a little of decoction and then he saw another plant, one that Cheyennes knew already, in his dream. So, he mixed a little of this plant with the plant whose decoction he drank, burned earth and sap of some pine. Gummy substance formed. He healed a man suffering from bad, cancer-like sores with the substance. High repute of this medicine get abroad and Crazy Mule’s family probably used it in 1960’s still. Northern Cheyenne healer Wesley Whiteman narrated story of a girl who fell ill. A handsome man entered mysteriously the tipi where she lay and cured the girl. When she get well the mysterious man said her and to her parents: "Look for me where the pine trees grow. I am the spirit of the pine gum" (Schwartz 1989: 53–4).