Life can be such a busy machine that we often take Mother Nature for granted. But when we are out in the countryside, and especially the forests, the majestic evergreen pines can bring home the wonder of creation. Are they simply the tall inhabitants of the forest, giving shade and shelter to the animals and birds, or do they have myriad other benefits hidden in their bulk?
The pine tree family, immense with its 126 recognized species, has a wide variety of benefits. These range from health and medicinal, food for animals, birds, and people, and add much value to the environment. Pine trees have even been featured historically in the arts and culture sector.
On researching pine trees, it becomes evident that nearly every part of the conifer is of value, from the bark to the foliage, including the needles, to the cones and the seeds. As we dig deeper into these benefits, the chances are high that we will never take a pine tree for granted again.
The Benefits Of Pine Trees
Many cultures believed in the medicinal and health benefits of various parts of the pine tree. They used some parts for beauty treatments, healing salves, teas that treated infections and inflammation, and respiratory illnesses.
Health Benefits of Pine Trees
The pollen taken from pine trees has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for generations. The pollen aids the body in dealing with stress, promotes better sleeping patterns, assists in balancing hormones, and strengthens the immune system. The Chinese have also used it cosmetically, applying it directly to the face.
The softer inner bark can be used as a poultice or, when taken internally, can effectively treat constipation, burns, and sores.
The Russians used the buds from the trees to treat chronic bronchitis, as well as Tuberculosis. They would also add them to a bath to soothe arthritic pain and for skin problems.
The pine needles have been utilized to make herbal teas which are well known for their healing properties.
The Health Benefits of Pine Needle Tea
Pine needle tea can be brewed from scratch at home but the woodsy flavoured beverage also comes pre-packaged. It benefits our bodies in a number of ways.
- It is full of antioxidants and has an ample supply of Vitamins A and C.
- It is an excellent treatment for respiratory infections with its expectorant and decongestant properties.
- These antioxidants assist in protecting the skin from any damage.
- The tea is effective in maintaining a healthy heart.
- It speeds up one’s metabolism.
- It is well known as an anti-inflammatory treatment.
- The pine needle tea can aid endurance during strenuous exercise.
- It helps maintain a clear mind and concentration.
Environmental Benefits Of Pine Trees
Pine trees have essential functions in their environments, ranging from preventing erosion to helping us save money and even going as far as having a positive effect on global warming.
Pine trees assist in decreasing soil erosion in two ways. The deep roots anchor the soil, keeping it in place during heavy wind and rain. Dropped pine needles also keep the topsoil from being eroded.
These sizeable trees are evergreen and provide shade for your garden and home. It keeps lawns green and plants from drying out and keeps the home cooler during hot weather. If the home is kept cool, we save energy, ultimately saving money.
Pine trees can also form a windbreak. As their leaves never fall, they can protect homes from the cold winter winds, resulting in a warmer home requiring less artificial heat, again, saving money.
These large conifers can also act as a screen on the boundaries of properties, facilitating privacy in our gardens and homes.
Pine trees have a fresh and pleasant fragrance. The compounds causing the lovely smell rise above the trees, forming aerosol particles, which in turn create droplets that have a cooling effect. The drop in temperature could limit global warming slightly.
The foliage that drops to the forest floor forms Mother Nature’s best mulch and helps to keep the moisture in the soil.
Food Derived From Pine Trees
Some pine trees have edible seeds that are used for baking. These are known as pine nuts and are used in salads and toppings for roasted vegetable dishes. They are also key ingredients in Pesto Alla Genovese.
The inner white bark is called cambium and has a high content of vitamin A and C. It is edible in its raw form and can also be ground into a substitute flour that can thicken soups and stews. One can use this flour to bake bark bread.
Beverages made from pine trees and other conifers are common in some East Asian countries, including herbal teas and even wine.
Of course, the trees are also a source of food for birds and animals. Some species of moths also feed on certain species of pines, often causing disease in the trees.
The Economic Benefits Of Pine Trees
The pine family is immensely valued for its contribution to the lumber and wood pulp industry worldwide. Pine timber is used for furniture, the construction of flooring, roofing, and wood panels. Some species produce a resin used in the production of turpentine.
Farming With Pine Trees
Pine trees are grown on plantations, with those planted for timber typically being harvested after approximately 25 years. Some trees are left for up to 50 years, with the value of the wood increasing with age. Defective trees are thinned out every 5 to 10 years not to use up the sunlight, water, and nutrients that could benefit the healthy trees.
The Evidence Of Pine Trees In Arts And Culture
Pine trees also have ornamental uses. They are harvested for Christmas trees, and the cones are used for crafts, including Christmas decorations. The needles can be made into baskets, pots, and trays.
Historically, pine trees have been featured in literature, art, and paintings. The famous artist Claude Monet painted a scene called Under The Pines, Evening. Pine trees are also mentioned in religious texts, such as the Bible, often referencing these evergreens. They are significant in Chinese culture, representing longevity and determination.
Animals And Pine Trees
Though pine trees are beneficial in so many ways, one of their few disadvantages is that the needles can be dangerous to pets, particularly dogs. If swallowed they can damage or irritate the lining of the stomach. The oils can also upset the mucous membranes. Though the ingestion of the needles may not be fatal, the dog can become ill and uncomfortable.
These aromatic, beautiful, and shady giants are more than a forest. They are also treasure troves with many benefits to people, animals, birds, the environment, and the world’s economy. They have also found some glory in art and literature, and rightfully so.