White Pine   1 comment


“The truly useful is always the truly beautiful.”

~Shaker saying


Look out the window; any window.  Chances are you will see a Pine tree.  Pines are everywhere!  We love them.  We love them on our lawns, lining streets and highways, filling vacant lots and on Xmas tree farms.  During the Winter Festivals we love to invite Pine branch, bough, cone and entire tree into our homes.  The fragrance alone brings even the darkest corner back to life.  So, why do we stop there?  Why have we forsaken the plethora of Pine benefits?  The Pinus species are a market of useful and necessary supplies.  We can go right outside, any time of year and pick the makings for tea, candy, flour, medicine, seasoning, mouthwash, toothbrushes, health tonic, potpourri, chewing gum, wound sealant, fire starter, invigorating inhalant, household cleaner, and skin cleanser from the Pines; for free, no carbon footprint, even!

Grab your coat and I’ll show you.


This is a White Pine, Pinus strobusPinus sylvestris, Pinus nigra, Pinus pinea, Pinus pinaster, are, also, all edible.  How sweet is that?  Although Pines are evergreen, not all Evergreens are Pine; so, how do we tell the difference?  First, look down for Pine sign!  Pine cones (pine scat!) and scattered needle clusters are a good indication that you’re standing under a Pine tree!

Then look straight ahead; the bark of the White Pine is “not scaly, as in most other pines, but dark with deep furrows.” (2)

Then, look up! “ Height 80’ to 110’; diameter 2’ – 3’.”

Finally, look close, White Pine needles grow in clumps of 5 and are  3-6″ long.

A great way to use White Pine is to make Pine Wash and it is handy to have around.  I like to soak a washcloth in it, wring it out, seal it in a zipper plastic bag and pop it in the freezer.  These handy, antiseptic Pinecloths can be defrosted at a moments notice by placing the sealed bag under hot running water.  Or, pop one, frozen, in your bag, to go.  If you have children they will love pine cloths.  They can even chew on them!  Pinecloths are a great addition to your diaper bag, picnic basket, or your foraging bag.  After you use your Pinecloth, simply return it to the handy zipper bag, for clean transport home.  Then wash and reuse.  I rinse out the zipper bags, turn them inside out to dry, and reuse them; also.

Pine Wash can be used to wash everything.  For a fragrant, antiseptic, fresh clean feeling, nothing beats Pine!  Use Pine Wash to disinfect cuts, rinse your hair (helps relieve scalp itch), wash your body (I like to mix 1 part Pine Wash with 1 part Dr. Bronners Peppermint Oil Soap), gargle, in the bath “to ease sleeplessness” (3), disinfect the bathroom, cut kitchen grease, (sprinkle some Bon Ami in the sink, wet with Pine Wash and scrub till your heart’s content!) scrub the floor, even wash the car!

To Make Pine Wash

Gather a gallon(ish) of twigs and needles.  Pick out any insects or debris.  Rinse, drain, and chop needles.  I like to cut them up with a utility scissor; it goes quickly.  Put needles in a medium pot, cover with water and place over medium heat.  When the water begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Keep the cover on the entire time; so the volatile Pine oils don’t all evaporate away.  Turn off heat and leave to cool; then strain and use.  If anyone in the house has a cold, or any respiratory difficulty, inhaling the vapors brings wonderful relief.  Remove the pot from the heat source and place on a heat proof surface, then, remove the cover from the pot. Place a towel over your head and stand over the pot.   Keep you face at least two feet above the pot and stay in the vapor tent “for 10 minutes” or so. (3)  You can leave the needles, twigs and water in the pot, covered, and then later reheat and enjoy the steam-bath again.  “This should be repeated often” (3).  Be sure not to touch the pot with your bare skin; or hold your face too close to the steam.



much like a tree

my roots are deep within the earth

yet we are both homeless

living only where we stand

in between the giveless crevices

any moment we could wake up dead together

one becoming furniture to bury the other

festering in blissless slumber

finally becoming home


 For safety sake we will end with the evergreen exception to the rule!  The seeds and foliage of the American Yew contain taxine; a heart-depressing alkaloid.  We will leave this one alone.  Although this shrub isn’t a Pine, at all, I’m including it here to avoid any possibility of confusion.



Taxus canadensis:

A low, straggling evergreen shrub with flat, pointed needles up to 1 in. long in flat sprays.  Needles green on both sides.  Twigs smooth after needles removed.  Note the juicy, red berry-like fruit with a single hard seed.  Height 3 ft. (1)

The American Yew is a popular ornamental shrub.  Please remember, short shrub, short needles, and red berries, equal POISONOUS.

Just click any photo to enlarge.

Thanks for stopping by.  See you soon.


(1)   Lee Allen Petterson. PETERSON FIELD GUIDES, Edible Wild Plants. Houghton Mifflin. 1977

(2)   Georges A Petridges. PETERSON FIELD GUIDES, Eastern Trees.  Houghton Mifflin.  1988

(3)   David Hoffman. THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED Holistic Herbal.  Element Books.  1996


One response to “White Pine

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  1. Pingback: Kid Friendly, Austrian Pine, Needles to Nuts! « Forageporage's Blog

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