Botanical Name: Pinus strobus
Species: P. strobus
Habitat: Pinus strobus is native to eastern North America. It occurs from Newfoundland west through the Great Lakes region to southeastern Manitoba and Minnesota, and south along the Appalachian Mountains and upper Piedmont to northernmost Georgia and perhaps very rarely in some of the higher elevations in northeastern Alabama, and is planted in areas near its natural range where summer temperatures are fairly moderate.
Like all members of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, the leaves (‘needles’) are in fascicles (bundles) of five (rarely 3 or 4), with a deciduous sheath. They are flexible, bluish-green, finely serrated, and 5–13 cm (2.0–5.1 in) long, and persist for 18 months, i.e. from the spring of one season to the autumn of the next, when they are shed by abscission.
The cones are slender, 8–16 cm (3.1–6.3 in) long (rarely longer than that) and 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) broad when open, and have scales with a rounded apex and slightly reflexed tip. The seeds are 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long, with a slender 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) wing, and are wind-dispersed. Cone production peaks every 3 to 5 years.
While eastern white pine is self-fertile, seeds produced this way tend to result in weak, stunted, malformed seedlings.
Mature trees can easily be 200 to 250 years old. Some white pines live over 400 years. A tree growing near Syracuse, New York was dated to 458 years in the late 1980s and trees in both Wisconsin and Michigan have approached 500 years in age
Pinus strobus is cultivated by plant nurseries as an ornamental tree, for planting in gardens and parks. The species is low-maintenance and rapid growing as a specimen tree. With regular shearing it can also be trained as a hedge. Some cultivars are used in bonsai
Part Used: Dried inner bark
Constituents: The powder shows starch and resin. The bark yields a maximum of 3 per cent of ash. It is a source of the terebinth of America. Coniferin is found in the cambium.
Expectorant, demulcent, diuretic, a useful remedy in coughs and colds, having a beneficial effect on the bladder and kidneys.The compound syrup contains sufficient morphine to assist in developing the morphine habit and should be used with caution.
Eastern white pine needles contain five times the amount of Vitamin C (by weight) of lemons and make an excellent herbal tea. The cambium is edible. It is also a source of resveratrol. Linnaeus noted in the 18th century that cattle and pigs fed pine bark bread grew well, but he personally did not like the taste. Caterpillars of Lusk’s Pinemoth (Coloradia luski) have been found to feed only on Pinus strobus.
Pine tar is produced by slowly burning pine roots, branches, or small trunks in a partially smothered flame. Pine tar mixed with beer can be used to remove tapeworms (flat worms) or nematodes (round worms). Pine tar mixed with sulfur is useful to treat dandruff, and marketed in present day products. Pine tar can also be processed to make turpentine
Native American traditional uses:
The name “Adirondack” is an Iroquois word which means tree-eater and referred to their neighbors (more commonly known as the Algonquians) who collected the inner bark of this tree, Picea rubens, and others during times of winter starvation. The white soft inner bark (cambial layer) was carefully separated from the hard, dark brown bark and dried. When pounded this product can be used as flour or added to stretch other starchy products.
The young staminate cones were stewed by the Ojibwe Indians with meat and were said to be sweet and not pitchy. In addition, the seeds are sweet and nutritious, but not as tasty as those of some of the western nut pines.
Pine resin (sap) has been used by various tribes to waterproof baskets, pails, and boats. The Chippewa also used pine resin to successfully treat infections and even gangrenous wounds. This is because pine resin apparently has a number of quite efficient antimicrobials. Generally a wet pulp from the inner bark was applied to wounds, or pine tar mixed with beeswax or butter and used as a salve was, to prevent infection.