Latin Name: Pinus spp. (Pinus elliottii, Pinus palustris, Pinus clausa, Pinus echinata, Pinus taeda, Pinus serotina, Pinus glabra, Pinus strobus)
Common Names: Slash pine, longleaf pine, sand pine, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, pond pine, spruce pined, white pine
Habitat: Pine trees are coniferous, evergreen trees. There are around seven different species that grow in Florida, and each of them grows in specific climates. For example, Longleaf pine can be found mostly in the northern half of Florida, in sandy flatlands. Slash pine is found growing naturally throughout most of Florida, especially in the southern half. Sand pine thrives in coastal dune regions and is a popular choice for Christmas trees.
Parts Used: Needles • Inner bark • Resin/pitch
History/Tradition: The needles and the inner part of the branches are high in vitamin C and were used to help combat scurvy with sailors.
Different cultures around the world have used the resin, needles, and inner bark in similar ways to relieve coughs, allergies, colds, and infections in the urinary tract and sinuses. Pine also has a long history of being used topically to help with skin infections and reduce inflammation in the joints and lessen arthritis pains.
Indigenous peoples of America have used several different pine species medicinally. They taught early American settlers how to use different parts of the trees to stay healthy.
Energetics: Cool or warm (Depending on the species) • Moist • Dry
Culinary Use: One of the most popular uses is creating a simple hot water infusion with fresh pine needles.
Other herbs that combine well with pine are:
- Thyme and bee balm for cold prevention
- Cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger help warm the body up in the wintertime and fight off germs
- Peppermint and catnip for daytime support when you’re feeling under the weather
Fresh pine needles can be used to infuse apple cider vinegar for a potent vitamin C-packed balsamic vinegar-like product that many enjoy.
- Can be used in a steam to loosen phlegm, chest congestion, and coughs
- Resin can help heal minor abrasions and cuts
- Pine needles can be consumed as tea to reduce fevers and soothe coughs and colds
- The needles are a diuretic
- Inner pine bark is more astringent than the needles and contains more resin
- The resin (pitch) is often used in first-aid as an antimicrobial wound dressing, and it can help remove splinters
- Pine resin is antimicrobial, and just as it heals wounds on the bark of the tree, it can also help us heal minor cuts and abrasions
- The resin and inner bark can also be used to infuse oil to make a soothing salve.
Flower Essence: For those who often blame themselves for their mistakes and the mistakes of others, pine flower essence can help break the cycle of self-blame. Individuals who are rarely satisfied with their achievements and always find faults in themselves find relief with pine flower essence. Guilt can create a negative cycle, so introducing this herbal ally as a flower essence can help one reclaim perspective and find more balance in self.
Cautions: A few species of trees have “pine” in their name, but they’re not used in the same way and could even be toxic. Australian pine (Casuarina spp.) and Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) are two such trees. When working with pine, as with any herbal ally, rely on identifiers and scientific names to verify identity.
Do not use pine needles during pregnancy. Avoid using the bark internally long-term. Both the needles and bark can irritate the kidneys, especially with long-term and high-dose usage. Don’t use pine resin internally unless under the direction of a medical or herbal professional in very small doses.
When using the inner bark, avoid girdling the tree.
The Bach Remedies Workbook: A Study Course in the Bach Flower Remedies, by Stefan Ball, (p. 125-126)
Florida’s Edible Wild Plants: A Guide to Collecting and Cooking, by Peggy Sias Lantz, (p. 55-56)