Eastern white pine or Pinus strobus is one of my go-to plants whenever i’m feeling a bit under the weather. Many people have forgotten that P. strobus is home to many health giving properties that can positively affect our immune system and endocrine system (hormones). In this article, you”ll learn how to identify this tree, how it’s been used in the past, and why to incorporate it into your life again.
Let’s get Technical!
Characteristics (borrowed from GoBotany)
Habitat: terrestrial and wetlands
Leaf form: the leaves are needle-like
Leaf cross-section: the needle-like leaves are rounded, or flattened on one side (can be rolled between the fingers)
Leaf arrangement: the needle-like leaves are in clusters or held on short shoots
Leaf clustering: the needle-like leaves are in bundles or clusters of five
Apparently, the Haudenosaunee or the Iroquois used to be called bark-eaters by their Algonquian speaking neighbors, at the time of contact with the early colonials. Like the indigenous reindeer herders of Sweden, the Haudenosaunee would prepare the bark of eastern white pine similar to the photo above. The recipe was to strip the bark, dry it, and then pound it into flour.
The Ojibwe Indians of the Great Lakes Region are said to stew the young cones with their meat, into a tasty and nutritious soup!
The bark of this tree, combined with the roots, make beautiful and waterproof baskets of different styles and sizes. I am grateful to have learned how to make them in Maine with Arthur Haines, and in the Adirondacks with Robin Kimmerer.
The Chippewa People of the Great Lakes region used the resin to superficial wounds.
Several studies below corroborate the health-affirming properties of P. strobus.
1) In, “Neuroprotective Effects of Korean Red Pine (Pinus densiflora) Bark Extract and Its Phenolics”, the authors suggest the Korean Red Pine Bark’s antioxidants protect our brain from oxidative damage, which has been on the rise since World War II.
2) In “Comparative effects of enzogenol® and vitamin C supplementation versus vitamin C alone on endothelial function and biochemical markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in chronic smokers.”, the authors note that combining Pinus radiata bark with ascorbic acid does demonstrate favorable effects on protein damage and fibrinogen levels in the blood.
3) In “Antioxidant, immunomodulatory and anti-breast cancer activities of phenolic extract from pine (Pinus massoniana Lamb) bark.”, the authors write P. massoniana contains benefial antioxidants, and can help remove excess iron from the body. They went on to further say that human breast cancer cells were inhibited when exposed to the extract.
4) Lastly, in “Qualitative and quantitative determination of natural testosterone type steroids in pollen from two Greek Pinus species (P. nigra and P. heldreichii)”, the author said that “ Pinus nigra contains epitestosterone, 5α-androstane-3α,17β-diol, 5β-androstane-3α,17β-diol and etiocholanolone…while total content of steroids 1.2 µg/10g. Pinus heldreichii, not previously studied, contained the same steroids at a much higher total content of 7.57 µg/10gr of pollen”!
In conclusion, look no further than your local forest or park to engage with this plant. You don’t need your modern grocery store to enjoy this plant.
This plant continue to serves me in so many wonderful and surprising ways. I know it will for you too. I know it’s modern and cool to forage, and I want you to continue! Please do responsibly and in sovereignty. The plants are alive, and are living just like us humans.
If you have any more questions about this plant, please reach out. Give our new video a watch as well. Thanks for reading!