Maternally inherited mtDNA in a secondary contact zone of ponderosa pine revealed a cline less than 10 km wide — much narrower than previously described. A survey of 76 populations gave no evidence either of intermixing or of a mosaic contact zone. Such sharp contact zones are consistent with diffusive range expansion, rather than long distance colonization. However, evidence for long distance seed dispersal events was found in two populations where haplotypes were observed far from their main area of occurrence. The results suggest a small number of long distance colonists with diffusive dispersal from these centres.