Pine


Botanical Name 

Pinus spp.

 

Common Name

Pine tree, however it is often mixed up with other conifer trees (tress that make cones) such as firs, spruces, cedars, hemlocks and larches.

 

Parts Used

Leaves (needles) - dried or fresh in a tea or decoction, infused in honey, eaten raw or added to food as a spice.

Bark - dried or fresh in a decoction

Pine cones - candied in honey when green still, left over honey is medicinal. 

Pine nuts - eaten raw or toasted.

Resin - topically on wounds to help bind and heal.

 

Native To

Found throughout the world in any temperate woods or forest, but thought to be native to Scotland, and originally much of the northern hemisphere. 

 

Botanical Description

Pine trees are incredibly common, they’re found on every continent, but mostly dominate forests in the Norther hemisphere. One report suggests pine trees makes up 1% of the entire plant population on earth.

Evergreen, they keep their leaves all year round. The leaves are shaped in tight curls appearing as needles. The needles are long and pointed with 2, 3 or 5 needles coming in clusters from a single point on the stem. A cluster of pine needles is called a fascicle. They tend to have a soft feel.

Pine cones are hard and woody with larger scales than on a Spruce. Clusters of male cones produce vast amounts of pollen on lower branches in spring. The cones are seed bearing (pine nuts) however only 20 varieties of pine tree worldwide produce cones with large enough pine nuts for harvesting.

Pines have reddish-brown or gray bark. Tends to be smooth when young, growing flaky with age.

 

Where It Grows

Can be found in nearly every woodland/forest from extreme cold to extreme heat. Can survive droughts but needs sun and open air. 

 

Season To Harvest

Leaves/needles - All year round, slightly better in spring when there's new growth.

Bark - All year round

Pine Cones - Spring/early summer when they're still small and green. 

Pine Nuts - Summer

Resin - All year round

 

Key Constituents 

Leaves/needles: Vit a and c, leucocyanidin, neoabietinic acid, pinosylvin monomethyl ester, strobic acid, antioxidants and volatile oils including α-terpineol, linalool, limonene, anethole, caryophyllene, and eugenol.

Bark: Vit a and c, abietic acid, cis-abienol, leucocyanidin, neoabietinic acid, pinosylvin, monomethyl ester, strobic acid, volatile oils.

Cones: Vit a and c, antioxidants, volatile oils.

Nuts: rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, C, D2, D3, and A, also rich in nicotinamide, folic acid, B-carotin, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium.

Resin: abietic acid, dehydroabietic acid, elliotic acid, isopimaric acid, levopimaric acid, palustric acid, pimaric acid, sandaracopimaric acid, strobinic acid and volatile oils.

 

Harvesting Guidelines

Snap branches/twigs with hands and pop straight into hot water to make tea. Make sure cones and green and twist off branches.

For nuts, gather cones when green and use heat from sun or oven to open the cones so the nuts can fall out. Make sure some cons have opened on the tree to know nuts are ripe. Not all cones make big enough nuts to harvest, check which type of pine you have discovered. 

The whole plant is safe to consume and is medicinal. 

Note - most coniferous trees are safe to consume but don't mistake pine for yew or juniper trees. Both are toxic, can be deadly. 

 

Uses

Needles: great for supporting the immune system, releasing phlegm from the lungs, easing a sore throat, curbing gas and helping with bloating. Topically the needles are antimicrobial and vulnerary.

Bark: decocted to make a strong bitter tea that can help the immune system, digestion, heart disease, varicose veins, clotting disorders, and some research even states cancer.

Cones: baby cones are great for the immune system and an overall energy boost when candied and eaten.

Nuts: eaten for a boost in vitamins and minerals.

Resin: used to seal wounds and prevent infection due to exceptional antimicrobial properties. It's insecticidal, anti-fungal, and antibacterial.

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