Materia Medica: Pine

Just in time for cold and flu season, comes a delightful herb from your backyard chock full of Vitamin C, an important nutrient for our immune health.

Learn more about this coniferous ally, the Pine Tree, in today’s video!

There are over 60 species of Pine growing in North America, and the needles of all can be used medicinally. In Florida, some of my favorite pine to work with are Longleaf Pine – Pinus palustris – and Loblolly Pine – Pinus taeda.

Method of Preparation:
Needles & Sheathes: Infusion, Vinegar
Sap: Salves, Poultices, Liniments & Topical Preparations
Herbalist Susun Weed recommends a delicious vinegar tincture to extract and preserve the magic of pine needles in her article “Pine Keeps You Fine”:
I preserve all the vitamins found in fresh pine needles by soaking them in apple cider vinegar for six weeks. I fill a wide-mouthed jar with pine needles and pour room-temperature, pasteurized apple cider vinegar over them until they are completely covered. A plastic (or non-metal) lid and a label with the name of the plant and the date completes the preparation. I call this tasty vinegar “home-made balsamic vinegar” and you will be surprised at how much it tastes like the store bought stuff — “Only better,” say many, with a smile.
I am a big fan of topical preparations utilizing pine sap – whether I apply it straight, in salve form, or blend it into a variety of topical preparations. Herbalist Thomas Easley reveres the many applications for pine sap in his article “Five Emergency Medicinal Herbs”:
When a Pine tree gets injured sap oozes out of the injury and dries into an almost solid ball of resin. This thickened sap protects the trees from infection by insects, bacteria and fungus. Just like the pine tree uses this tarry substance to prevent infections to its injured areas, we can use it in the same manner. Pine sap and resin are strongly antibacterial and antifungal. Besides killing off harmful critters that like to live in open wounds and create infection, pine sap helps to stop bleeding and draws pus, splinters and anything else that doesn’t belong out of open wounds. So, as you are walking in the forest keep your eyes open for clear sap oozing out of Pine trees and cones or tarry balls covering old scars. The thicker tarry balls will normally soften up when warmed by your body temperature and both the softened tar balls and the clear sap can be applied directly to any cut or wound. You can also take the sap and dissolve it in a little high proof alcohol. This dissolved pine sap can be sprayed onto wounds to help seal them from infection and also can be sprayed directly onto the back of the throat to help with strep and sore throat.
Longleaf pine is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It was once the most prevalent pine on the coastal plains, but was heavily overharvested for timber and turpentine during European colonization.

Have you used Pine as tea? Do you enjoy the flavor and effects?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

See Also:    Longleaf Pine Fact Sheet



  • Peggy

    Thanks for this recap, Emily! We served pine tea at a children’s garden workshop today in Neptune Beach, N Florida, as we were talking about Timucuan culture. It is mild and delicious even without sweetening and the children guessed that it was a lemon water after tasting. All were surprised that it was pine, available everywhere!

  • Maddie

    Love this video!
    We made some Pine honey and some pine elixir up at the teahouse this year. I’ve had a sniffle for the past few days so I have been dosing up on it. I love love love that pine flavor. So woodsy. The best.
    Love you, Emily! Thanks for sharing your wisdom 🙂

  • Patty Holden

    We use pine needle tea every winter! My fiancé started showing signs of a bad cold while we were on the road traveling once, and all we were able to do (since it was late at night) was pull over and get pine needles from a tree in a field and make teat from it. We also had rosemary sprigs with us, and he was able to put them in hot water and inhale the steam into his lungs. That is all we had to work with until morning when stores opened….by morning we didn’t need anything, he was fine enough to let his own body fight the rest of it away. We learned this trick about pine needle tea from you, thank-you so much for all you do!

  • Leandra

    Great teaching on the pine Emily. My son Sam learned that on a survival show he watched and wanted to make us some while camping this weekend. It was so good to hear your voice teaching again. Miss sitting and learning from you.

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