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Eastern White Pine

(Pinus strobus)

Range:

Family:

Pinaceae - Pine Family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Perhaps one of the most important survival trees in the Eastern forest. Pinus strobus is the tallest tree in Eastern North American. It can grow to a height of 160 - 190 feet tall. There are accounts of the pre-colonial eastern white pines reaching 230 feet tall.

Height:

Can reach heights of 160 - 190 feet.

Leaves:

Needles, which grow in sets of 5 needles per fascicle. They are flexible, bluish green, finely serrated, and 2-5 in long.

Stem/Trunk:

Trunks can reach up to 5 ft in diameter.

Root:

N/A

Flower:

Season:

N/A

Appearance:

N/A

Seed/Fruit:

Slender cones are 3 - 6 in long, and 1.5 - 2 in wide when open.

Miscellaneous characteristics:

N/A

Habitat:

White pines prefer well-drained soil and cool, humid climates, but also grow in boggy areas and rocky highlands. In mixed forests, this dominant tree towers over all others, including the large hardwoods.

Parts Used:

Needles, Inner bark

Uses:

Wild Food Use:

Needles can be used to brew an excellent tea which is high in Vitamin C and sugars. As a matter of fact, the needles of white pine have 5 times the Vitamin C of lemons. The inner bark is also a source of vitamins and minerals, most notably of these is Vitamin B. It is also high in sugars. Eating the cambial layer of eastern white pine can provide a boost of energy. Large amounts of the cambial layer should not be eaten raw, as their fibrous nature can cause gastric distress. I recommend boiling in water to make a kind of soup.

 

The Algonquian tribes would gather the cambial layer of eastern white pine during times of winter starvation. They would dry the inner bark, and pound it into a flour substitute. The Iroquois referred to their Algonquian neighbors as "Adirondack", an Iroquois word meaning bark eater.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Use:

An expectorant and cough suppressant can be made by brewing a tea from the inner bark or twigs. Simmer a piece of fresh inner bark approximately 4" X 2",or a handful of twigs, in a cup of water, and drink to alleviate chest congestion and cough. The sap has antimicrobial properties as well. It was used by Native Americans to treat wounds. They applied the sap to open wounds to protect from bacteria, and speed healing. The pitch was used by Native Americans to draw out boils and abscesses. Drinking a tea prepared from the cambium and needles is also said to have a beneficial effect on the bladder and kidneys.

Additional Uses:

Pinus spp., hold their dead branches which make them an excellent source of tinder even in wet weather. The pitch contained in the plant makes pine an excellent fuel for fires. Gather the dead lower branches and twigs for making your fires. The pitch can also be used as an excellent adhesive. The small live twigs and branches containing needles can also be used as padding for your forest bed.

Medicinal Actions:

Antiscorbutic, Demulcent, Diuretic, Expectorant

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Revised: 05/12/17 Living Afield