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The Ancient Wisdom of Pine

AKA: Pinus spp.: Pinales: Pinaceae, L. Family: Pinaceae; Pine Tree


Propagation/Description: There are at least 126 recognized species of pine trees across the globe (even in the Arctic Circle!) and can grow up to hundreds of feet tall. Pines are softwoods, but commercially are designated as soft pines or hard pines. Soft pines, such as white, sugar, and piñon pines, have relatively soft timber, needles in bundles of five (less commonly, one to four), stalked cones with scales lacking prickles, and little resin. Their wood is close-grained, with thin, nearly white sapwood; the sheaths of the leaf clusters are deciduous, and the leaves contain a single fibrovascular bundle. Hard pines, such as Scotch, Corsican, and loblolly pines, have relatively hard timber, needles in bundles of two or three (rarely, five to eight), cone scales with prickles, and large amounts of resin. Their wood is coarse-grained and usually dark-coloured, with pale, often thick sapwood; the sheaths of the leaf clusters are persistent, and the leaves have two fibrovascular bundles. Growing a pine tree from cuttings successfully isn’t too complicated. Start by taking several 4- to 6-inch (10-15 cm.) cuttings from the current year’s growth. The cuttings should be healthy and disease free, preferably with new growth at the tips. Seeds will need to be put in water to soak and the ones that sink are good to plant. plant the seeds into paper tubes so that when they were big enough to plant out (about 6 inches high and with a few little branches),  you can pop the whole tube into the ground without disturbing the roots at all.


Folklore/History: Pine trees can live for hundreds or even thousands of years. One of the world’s oldest living organisms is a bristlecone pine tree (Pinus longaeva) called Methuselah who is 4,600 years old. They are one of the oldest species on the planet, dating back over 150 million years. As a symbol of royalty the pine was associated with the Greek goddess Pitthea. Pine was also a fertility symbol and was linked to the Dionysus/Bacchus mythology surrounding the vine and wine making. Worshippers of Dionysus carried a phallic pine-cone-tipped wand. To the Iroquois people, the white pine is a symbol of the Great Peace that united their separate nations into an enduring League. There are many attributions in other cultures as well. China, Korea, Japan, Greece, Northern Europe (Germanic cultures), Italy (Romans), all have culturally spiritual beliefs dating back thousands of years.


Medicinal: Its energetics are warming (speed up the metabolism, stimulate energy production, increase blood flow and warm the body.) and drying (remove excess moisture from tissue, firming it and relieving swelling and dampness.). It is a stimulating diuretic, expectorant, and diaphoretic. It modulates inflammation, is a nutrient–dense food, vulnerary, and an antimicrobial. Which means it helps with cold and flu symptoms, wound healing, splinters, rheumatism, and a nutrient rich source of food. Per gram, pine needles have more vitamin C than an orange. The young needles have less than older needles, although the younger needles make a tastier tea. Simmering pine needles (decoction), rather than simply steeping in hot water, causes the medicine to become a stimulating expectorant and diaphoretic. Pine resin is widely used externally as a vulnerary, pain reliever, and “drawing” preparation to remove splinters or other foreign objects from the body, ease rheumatic and muscular pain, and to relieve lung congestion as a topical cream, topical salve, or bath herb.


Spiritual: Pine trees embody exuberant energy even when days are long and dark, and symbolize enlightenment and immortality, according to some ancient cultures. They are also associated with wisdom, immortality, peace, prosperity and fertility: in ancient Greece and Rome, pine cones had phallic significance; in Japanese folklore, two pine trees standing together symbolize fidelity and passionate love. Here Pine is noted as a herb/plant/tree of clarity, divine harmony, healing, purification, releasing guilt and financial fertility.

Summary: I grew up in southeast Texas and these tall pines were everywhere! I was always amazed by them and curious about them. As I grew up and traveled more I realized there were so many different kinds and they all brought me a sense of peace and tranquility. A sense of safety and secret knowledge. Almost as if these ancient trees had so many stories to tell and pieces of wisdom that they could solve all the worlds problems if we would just listen to them. It does not matter where they grow, they will always be a tree that gives birth to legends! It is a tree that will give us as much love and nurturing as we give to it.



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