Pine trees are thought to be the oldest seed-bearing type of plant on Earth and have been around for 400 million years, which dates them to around 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the planet. All pine trees are evergreens, which means they keep their green colour throughout the year, even during winter. They are also plants that have needles for leaves. Their branches grow in a whirl-like pattern around the trunk.
Pine tree reproduction
Pine trees produce both male and female cones for reproduction. The two look quite different, with the female cone appearing much woodier. The male cones fertilise the female cones, which then produce a winged seed that falls to the ground or is carried on the wind to other areas to germinate new trees.
Edible pine tree
Pine trees have been eaten by since 4,000 BC, with many prehistoric peoples cutting pieces of the inner bark for food routinely. The young shoots of the pine tree can be cooked and sugared for a sweet treat, while pine needles can be used to produce a tea that is rich in Vitamin C. It is said that the explorer James Cartier and his fellow travellers were able to avoid scurvy on their journeys with pine needle tea introduced to them by a local Native American tribe.
Pine needle uses
Pine needles are also used in basket-making in areas where longer pine needles make weaving baskets, hats and other products feasible. Pine needles can also be used as a plant mulch. They decompose slowly and make soil more acidic, which can be helpful to acid-loving plants like azaleas and hydrangeas, strawberries and lily of the valley.
Pine tar is a sticky substance produced from pine trees under heat and pressure. It was used in early times as a wood preservative for shipbuilding and other industries. Pine tar was used as a coating to seal the wood. It is used in veterinary practice as an antiseptic and for hoof care in horses and cattle.
Pine tree wood
Pine is considered a soft wood, although some varieties can be quite hard. It is used extensively in building, for both interiors and exteriors. Pine tree wood is easy to work with and its attractive grain makes it popular for woodworking and furniture making.