Medicinal Trees: Pine (Pinus)

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  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,641 admin

    Pines are such a useful species.

    Species we have here in BC: P. albicaulis (Whitebark Pine), P. banksiana (Jack Pine), P. contorta (Shore Pine), P. contorta var. latifolia (Lodgepole Pine), P. flexilis (Limber Pine), P. monticola (Western White Pine) and P. ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine).

    Jack Pine isn’t common, usually only found to the east of the Rockies. But there is a small corner of northeastern BC which is on the other side of the Rockies that is Jack Pine habitat. There is a hybrid species called Pinus x murraybanksiana that occurs where Jack Pine and Lodgepole Pine habitats overlap.

    Shore Pine (sticking with its name) is only found right on the coast. It seems to really like the salt air. But its growth habit is very stunted. One of the trails in Pacific Rim National Park goes through the “Broccoli Forest”. The trees don’t get much over 30 feet with many not getting even that tall. As you can see in this pic, they look like broccoli tops. The ocean is just on the other side of the trees.

    I don’t often drink hot beverages but I do like the taste of needle tea, not just from pine but most conifers.

    I thought it was an interesting use, to infused the fatwood in gin as a remedy.

    Charcoal remains such an important medicine, not just in the herbal world but in main stream medicine as well.

    Just for interest and historical reference, cause at least one of the ingredients won’t be available, Henriette’s Herbal has a recipe for Syrupus Pini Strobi Compositus at:


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,463 admin

    Although I am allergic to pine pollen and the mold that grows under pine needles, it is an herb I use a LOT! I would say there are an average of 2 dozen pines on every lot in the Carolinas and Georgia - even a 16th of an acre probably has a dozen loblollies. I am going to cut a bit white pine in my yard soon and will be using every both of it either as medicine or carving wood. White pine is 2nd only to basswood for carving.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,523 admin
    edited January 2023

    Hahaha, @judsoncarroll4 I just posted that everyone had been posting about pine (over all other types of conifers) this past season. I guess you are right in there with everyone else!

    One of my daughters just got a late gift from her employer. It was a 100% natural northern Manitoba Balsam hydrosol and a small balsam essential oil. I can't describe how absolutely perfect it smells! It came with a birch vessel (good for maybe hair brushes & combs kind of thing) & a small twig (about 8") of dried Balsam fir. I can't detect any scent on it anymore. @torey it isn't much, but could I do anything with it at this point?

    I am looking forward to trying my hand at anything pine in the next couple months if I get a chance. It is so good.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,463 admin

    I wrote the article over a year ago and have been posting this series in alphabetical order. But, pine does see, more popular now than when I wrote it.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,641 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning Even though it hasn't got much scent left, it should still have medicinal properties. An 8" piece would be enough to make a cup of tea that would be very good for opening up the lungs.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,523 admin

    @torey Thanks! I am looking forward to trying it.

    I was also wondering if I could find twigs/needles somewhere online for use (I didn't find any) or, just thinking about it now, seeds to try to plant here. I'd most likely never be able to get to use much if any grew because they take so long to grow, but I'd like to try anyway.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,641 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning I just had a quick look and Tree Time is offering 1 and 2 year old seedlings at a fairly reasonable price. They are sold out of balsam fir (and all their other Abies) at the moment but they do have lodgepole pine seedlings and jack pine (which might be a better choice for you than lodgepole). They also have Douglas fir in stock.

    I'd be happy to send you a variety of needles to try as tea if you like. I have access to lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, white pine, sub-alpine fir (very similar to balsam fir) and Doug fir. I'm sure you have enough spruce to harvest in your area.

    Have you tried tamarack before? I haven't but I have read that larch tastes a bit like juniper.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,523 admin

    I was thinking of Incredible Seeds. I forgot about Tree Time. 🤦‍♀️ A started tree could be better. I'll check both out. I just haven't got to it yet.

    I could get jack pine about an 1-1 1/2 drive from here. It grows in and around the national park. You are correct that we have lots of white spruce. It's our provincial tree. We do have some blue in our yard. There is some scotch pine & juniper found locally as well.

    Larch/Tamarack is also in some places within an hour. I planted two in our backyard and they are getting quite tall (24'?) even though they are still very young. I was pleased to see a few cones on them this summer. I feel that they are still too young to take much from them, but maybe I could take a bit. I'd have to see if there is anywhere that might have good access to mature trees. Our oldest lives by a marsh that has lots, but I'm not too sure how accessible those are. If doing that, I'd also like to look for usnea.

    I'd be really interested in some needles from you. I thought of asking, but wanted to see if I could find some online before I asked you to go to that bother. Thanks for the offer! That would be like Christmas (in many ways) all over again...but I think way more exciting. 😂 I would get everyone in the house to have a sip & ponder the differences.