Leaves are in fascicles of 3's, 6-12" long, stiff, bluish-gray green, sharply pointed, remaining only 2-3 (4) years so they are clustered at the ends of the branches. The leaves are stiff enough they do not bend or weep even though they are almost a foot long.
Other 3 needle pines in our area:
P. attenuata, Knobcone Pine is native to the northern county and can be seen in UCSC wild areas. Cones are very asymmetrical, in large clusters on the main stems and held for years.
P. jefferyi, Long leaves, similar to ponderosa leaves, and the cones are smaller, and the prickle on the scale is curved inward. You will not likely see one in SC.
P. radiata, Dark green leaves, shorter and softer. Cones without a large prickle.
P. ponderosa: Shorter leaves, taller open habit, smaller cones
Along Bonita at the Freedom Ave exit, above the retaining wall.
Gram Hill Rd and Covered Bridge Rd, right above the Felton sign
Santa Cruz mountains along Hecker Pass.
Summit Rd; on the SC county side, at the school/community center, along the back road.