Jeffrey pine is a mid-elevation tree, usually found between 6000 and 9000 feet, primarily on the eastern side of the Sierra and scattered throughout southern California as well as the Klamath and North Coast Ranges. It also is found in lesser abundance on the west side of the Sierra.
Jeffrey pine and ponderosa pine look similar, though ponderosa occurs more on the western side of the Sierra and has smaller cones with outcurved prickles. The furrowed bark of Jeffrey pine is somewhat more red-violet, while the jigsaw pieces of ponderosa bark are more yellowish. Jeffrey pine bark also has a fragrance, more noticeable at some times than others, of vanilla/butterscotch/pineapple—I've heard it described variously.
Jeffrey pine is more cold tolerant than ponderosa, thus occurs at higher elevations. Ponderosa, however, is more drought resistant. Jeffrey pine has a trunk somewhat stouter than ponderosa, though ponderosa can grow taller.
Jeffrey pine hybridizes, or produces intermediate forms, both with Coulter pine and ponderosa pine, where they occur together.
Cones are large, 5-7 inches, sometimes even more, and have incurved prickles.
This young Jeffrey pine near Bishop, CA displays the luxuriant, 8-10 inch needles in groups of three.