Pine Tree Gifts- Herbs for Beginners

Pine trees are amazing! They provide food, warmth, shelter, and medicine. Birds, squirrels, and deer find shelter from storms under the branches of pine trees. They shelter us too- most of our homes are built with 2x4’s and plywood made from pine trees. Pine wood is used for wood fire places- providing heat. Pine trees provide food in the form of pine cones for many birds and small animals. Pine needles are high in Vitamin C, providing essential nutrients for deer and other animals in the winter when most other sources of Vitamin C are gone. Pine seeds, pine resin and pine pollen are also wonderful gifts of pine trees. 


Pine tree needles are connected to the tree branch in groups of 2,3, or 5. Fir trees are in the same family, they have short, flat needles, and they usually have a more blueish tint to their needles. Look for pine cones around the base of the tree or the branches to help identify it. Pine trees are part of the conifer family- meaning they produce cones. There is a poisonous look alike, the yew tree. Yew trees are also evergreen, and they have short flat needles and red berries, but no cones. 

Seeds In Pine Cones

Pine cones are the covering that protects the seeds of the pine trees. Pine seeds are a highly nutritious food that sustain many birds and little animals through winter. Many squirrels and birds hide pine cones in the ground for winter. Sometimes they forget where they hid them, and the hidden seeds sprout as new little trees.  

Pine cones are best gathered when they’re closed, in the early summer, before the seeds have fallen out. Once you’ve gathered the pine cones, let them dry out and open up. You can speed up the process by adding very low heat from an oven. Once the pine cones are open, its time to take the seeds out. The seeds take a bit of coaxing to come out- hitting the cone against a cutting board or rock helps release the seeds. Many small seeds covered with semi-hard shells will come out of the pine cone as it is pounded. Each seed will need its shell removed before eating, similar to sunflower seeds. The seeds are high in protein and nutrients and keep all winter. A pine seed that you may be familiar with is pine nuts. Pine nuts come from the Pinyon Pine tree. They’re high in protein and very nutritious, and are used in recipes for salads and pesto. 

Pine Needles as Food and Medicine

Pine needles are very high in Vitamin C, and are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin C in the winter. Older needles have more Vitamin C than the newer needles, but the newer needles taste better. The vitamin C content of the needles has been tested in the winter compared to the summer, and the Vitamin C content is higher in winter. Scientists think that the higher ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) may help the trees survive winter better. There is also resin in pine needles- it is warming, and helps with coughs. 

A great way to use pine needles is to make pine needle tea. Use scissors to cut up the pine needles into small pieces, this releases the wonderful fragrance of the needles. You can make a cold tea by putting fresh pine needles in cold water and letting it sit for several hours before drinking. Or you can pour hot, boiling water over a cup with pine needles in it. The heat will destroy some of the vitamin C, but some will remain, along with the resin. Adding an orange slice and cinnamon stick to your pine needles makes for a great winter tea. 

Pine needles can also be infused into oil like olive oil or coconut oil. You can make a pine needle lip balm or salve using the pine infused oil and beeswax. Vitamin C is great for skin, protecting against sun damage. Some people use pine needles or fir needles as herbal bitters. The bitterness of pine needles combined with other herbs like dandelion root helps increase production of digestive enzymes, and helps people digest their food better. 

I’ve heard that you should ask the tree or plant if you can pick it before you take from it. Last year, I was walking on the Pine Forest trail with our kids.  I asked a small pine tree, “Can I have some of your needles?” In my mind I heard the little tree respond, “No, I need them.” I asked a few other smaller trees, and they told me no, that they needed their pine needles too. When I got to Pine Forest, with its tall, mature pine trees, I asked one of the pine trees if I could have some pine needles and it said, “Take as much as you need.” Be considerate of the pine trees and thank them when you take their needles. Taking pine needles from fallen branches is best, if they’re available. 

Benefits of Pine Resin

When a bug bores a hole into a pine tree or it loses a branch, the tree oozes out a sticky resin to protect itself from further damage. This resin fights bacteria, and helps draw out the bugs and bacteria. Anywhere the bark is broken, the pine tree will ooze this medicinal resin. You can take a piece of resin and chew it like gum. It helps with coughs, helping the lungs cough up any mucus that is stagnant. It is an expectorant. The resin can be gathered and melted with beeswax to make a salve. The salve can be used to rub on someone’s chest when they have a cough. It is also used to alleviate sore joints.

Benefits of Pine Pollen

Pine pollen is very high in nutrients and is considered a superfood. Pollen is gathered in late spring. Gather the male pine flowers from the pine trees. They are about the size of a large cheeto, and they release pollen when you tap them. Gather them into a large Ziploc bag, then pound them to release the pollen. Then sift pollen from the chaff. The pollen can be used in baking to replace part of the flour in baked goods. Pine pollen fudge is made by mixing the pollen with honey and butter until it is the consistency of play dough. Shape it into bite size pieces for a tasty treat. 

Spiritual meaning

Pine trees, with their branches that are always green, remind us of Jesus. His love is there for us in every season, like the evergreen branches. Any time little birds feel threatened or need shelter, they quickly fly up to a tree. Other trees provide temporary cover for birds in summer, but in winter only the evergreens shelter birds from storms. When pine branches are weighed down with snow, they provide an even better wind break and shelter for little birds. It is amazing how Heavenly Father provides for all of the things He has created.

In the book The Hiding Place, the author describes what she went through in WWII, the horrible things that happened to the Jews and those who protected them. The author, Corrie Ten Boom, named her book The Hiding Place, in reference to the Lord, who was her Hiding Place. Jesus was who she went to every time scary and hard things happened, He got her through that terrible time. 

Corrie’s family read the Bible, and she may have remembered Psalm 32:7 talking about the Lord being our Hiding Place. “For you are my hiding place, you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.” 

Pine trees remind us that Jesus is our hiding place, our shelter, like the evergreen trees are for little birds.

Some pine cones have a waxy, resinous protective covering. This type of pine cone only opens during intense heat, like a forest fire. Jesus went through fire for us, to give us new life. It is human nature to close up and focus on yourself when you’re hurting. Sometimes people that are suffering a lot curl up into a tight ball, in fetal position, like they were inside their mother before they were born. Instead of staying closed, pine cones open up during a fire. Jesus was like this too. He was focused outward on others- forgiving and loving others as he went through the crucifixion that was like fire. His arms were stretched open at the cross. The suffering and fire Jesus went through for us brings us life. Everything in nature testifies of Jesus! 


De la Foret, Rosalee and Han, Emily, 2020, Wild Remedies, How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Medicine, p. 345-349, Hay House


Popular posts from this blog

Roses- Herbs for Beginners

October 2021 Homemade Lotions and Soaps

Massage for healing