Living on a Pine Tree

Pine Trees

I live in a Yellow Pine Forest that is made up of Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines primarily, but there are other Pines here, too. Coulters & Sugar Pines also live in these hills. Not too far down the road are Pinyons. At higher elevations there are Limber & Lodgepole Pines.

The fragrance of these trees is both elevating and soothing. The way they stand sentry around us makes me feel safe. Like ancient warriors guarding the sanctity of this place. In fact, we have one Ponderosa Pine in our yard that must be hundreds of years old.

San Jacinto Wilderness

Little did I know that these trees are a resource for food and medicine. My first lesson about the benefits of pine trees was drinking Pine Needle tea years ago. Did you know indigenous peoples of North America introduced this herbal remedy to the Europeans when they began to show signs of scurvy? The traditional people of this land knew how to use herbal remedies for everyday ailments, and many still use these methods today.

Isn’t he grand? 🙂

Pine needles are high in Vitamin C, there’s more Vitamin C in pine needles than an orange!! As the needles mature on the branch, the more Vitamin C there will be. (Scurvy is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency.)

New pine growth (baby tree!!)

Pine Tree for Survival 

I realize you’re likely never to find yourself in a survival situation, but the usefulness of Pine trees is fascinating, and most of these fragrant conifers can be found just about anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

Pine trees can be consumed as food and drink in a variety of ways. They are also excellent sources of herbal medicine.

Did you know?

  1. Inner Bark
    • Was consumed by various cultures for caloric and Vitamin C content
    • Is excellent for food in a survival situation
    • Can be cooked and eaten by itself or added to a recipe
    • Works well as an expectorant
    • Makes a delightful herbal tea
    • Can be tinctured

Note: if this appeals to you, select a small branch that can be removed from a living tree or select a tree that is going to be cut down. Cutting into the outer bark to get to the inner bark can be harmful to the tree, and not advisable.

  1. Resin/Pitch
    • Is antimicrobial, and acts as an expectorant
    • Was consumed as a candy by many traditional cultures
    • Is excellent for topical applications (e.g. an emergency band-aid)
    • Can be used as a glue and a fire starter (in the wild)
    • Makes a potent extract/tincture
    • Can be infused in oil, and use as a stand-along massage oil or make a salve with it
  2. Needles
    • The ‘leaves’ of a conifer are yummy to chew on and great in tea
    • Make a delicious and effective cough syrup
    • Can be made into a tincture
    • Add to bath salts or the tub (if you love the fragrance of pine, you’ll also love soaking in it)
    • Are uses as an ingredient in a variety of food recipes (even cookies!)
  3. Pollen
    • Male cones are filled with pollen (which are messy and can cause seasonal allergies to flare up), and yet, pollen is a very healthy substance
    • Can be added as an ingredient in a food recipe (like pancakes, bread or sprinkle in your smoothie). Use your imagination.
    • Make an exceptional tincture
    • Collect male cones and place them in a VERY fine mesh strainer. You can swirl the strainer over a bowl to collect the pollen. And with a spoon stir them around a bit to help the process. Pollen is yellow. If you have brown in your mix, that’s the chaff, which won’t hurt you, but it’s not as tasty. Store in an airtight container.
  4. Nuts
    • These are the seeds of the tree found inside the cone and well-known as an ingredient in pesto. *I’ve harvested both Ponderosa and Jeffrey pine nuts from unopened pine-cones that I found on the forest floor. Pinyon pines have the largest nuts in my region. Unopened cones will open on their own when they warm up/dry. I brought some home, placed them in a tray inside where it was warm, and they opened. Most of the nuts fell-out of the cone, but some had to be pulled out with pliers. Store in a cool dry place in an airtight container.
    • Are used as an ingredient in a food recipe (like Pesto)
    • Can be blended into a nut-butter (yummy & nutritious)

I confess, I haven’t made many of the food recipes you might find in survival and self-reliance teachings with pine ingredients. However, I have made several pine herbal preparations (e.g. teas, tinctures, salves, & oil infusions). Being surrounded by these trees invites me to experiment a bit. I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes I’ve read about.

How does Pine Bark Bread sound to you? I’ll admit, it sounds like too much work for me. I prefer simple projects. ? I’m more likely to make tea or a tincture with the inner bark of a pine tree. But, if you like making bread, this may sound super intriguing to you.

Pine Bark

While backpacking or camping, you can roast the inner bark of a pine tree. Heating it will soften it up a bit and make it easier to chew. The nuts are easy to lightly roast, too, and would be a yummy treat while camping (this, and pine needle tea). Again, these are nutritious wild foods.

For home use, I like using raw nuts in my recipes, so I don’t roast the nuts I’ve collected. And to be clear, I’m not out in the woods bringing home dozens of pinecones, but if I find an unopened cone on the ground, I will often pick it up, bring it home and collect the nuts from it.

Pine Nuts

Recently saw a recipe for Pine Needle Sugar Cookies online that I think I will try!! They sound heavenly. And who doesn’t like the idea of making pine-tree shaped & flavored cookies? Is it just me?

Do any of these ideas spark a creative flame in you? Which one would you like to try? Or, have you already made something with Pine? Tell me about it, I can’t wait to hear about your experience.

And remember…

If you’re in the wild and need nutrition, don’t forget these nourishing trees can save your life. Keep in mind some wild foods have the potential to give you an upset stomach if consumed in large quantities. It’s always a good idea to consume wild edible food in small amounts at first to make sure you can tolerate them.

Please be safe and learn to properly identify a tree/plant before working with it.

May your journey be filled with Pines.


Ethically harvested pine resin


You  may also like this blog on Forest Bathing: https://cryherbals.comforest-bathing-health-well-being/


Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, 2003 Michael Moore
Native American Food Plants, 2010 Daniel E. Moerman
Foraging California, 2014 Christopher Nyerges


Disclaimer: The information written in CRY Herbals’ emails, blog & website is for creative and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. All questions regarding any health condition should be addressed to your primary care physician or other healthcare provider. We are simply ordinary folk who love experimenting and working with natural herbal products to enhance and support the body in health and well-being. It is joy and honor to explore the historical and contemporary practices of herbalism for the purposes of education and personal fulfillment. ?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This