INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: 3 Gifts from the Pine Tree

by John A. Heatherly, Author of The Survival Template

Photo by Naomi Ibuki

Pine trees are beautiful and abundant, while they offer the following three valuable gifts:

Pine Needle Tea – green pine needles can make a tasty tea that will warm your family’s spirits on a cold day while providing much more Vitamin C than most citrus fruits.  To make the tea: simply clean a few handfuls of green pine needles; break them into pieces; simmer for 10 minutes or so; and let the tea steep for another few minutes.  Simple, nutritious, and flavorsome!

Edible Cambium – the light colored inner bark of pines is called the cambium layer.  It rests underneath outer bark and just above the harder interior of the tree.  Cambium can be harvested by cutting a square shape in the side of a tree (please don’t damage standing trees frivolously – this is a survival skill!) with a knife then peeling away the layers.  The cambium can be peeled or scraped into strips like bacon, then fried or roasted for consumption.

Nuts – Pine nuts can be harvested in the Fall and provide great taste and a lot of protein.  It is best to gather them using a ladder while wearing gloves (the cones that contain the seeds are sticky.)  Store the cones in a sack, and place the sack in the sun for a few days so that the cones will dry out and open up.  It helps to rotate the sack daily.  Cones can also be roasted by a fire or even in an oven.  Once dry they will open to reveal the nuts.

Does anyone have any special experience or alternative uses to offer that involve these delicacies?

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© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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John's exploration of wilderness survival includes coursework at Tom Brown Jr.’s TrackerSchool, military service as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (S.E.R.E.) Instructor, and the study of leadership as an Officer. He is the author of THE SURVIVAL TEMPLATE and THE CAVE AND THE SEA, A NOVEL which can be found at

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  1. Elizabeth says

    We have several acres of Slash Pine on our property and therefore have an abundant supply of needles. We lease out the pine stand to a gentleman who bales the needles and sells them for mulch. This past year I was wondering what to do with all of the extra needles and began making baskets with them. It's easy to do, you probably have the basic supplies on hand, and can be functional as well as decorative! I checked out a book (Pine Needle Basketry by Judy Mofield Mallow) from my local library and taught myself how to do it in one afternoon. Now, several families in our rural area are making baskets as well as three librarians in town.

    PS I didn't know about the tea so I'll be making some today for my hubby!

  2. J.Turner says

    Pine nuts cost a fortune to buy. They are used in Mediterranean recipes, Italian, Lebanese etc. There are lots of recipes for them on the net.

  3. Bill says

    The resin from pine trees also makes an outstanding fire starter. Wood from a stump is many times saturated with the stuff. It does not take much, and smokes a little, but works great.

    As a side note: If you get the pitch on your skin it can easily be cleaned by rubbing with a little mayonaise (like waterless hand cleaner). I have not found anything else that will remove the pitch without taking skin also.

  4. Jan says

    We live in a pine forest, plenty of needles for tea. My kids and I think the tea is a little bitter. Honey sure makes it taste better. My kids also like to put a peppermint candy in it. It melts pretty quick and makes the tea taste better. We have so many pine needles that we use them to cover our garden beds during the winter. We make sure we rake as many of them out in the spring as possible. Too many pine needles mixed in the garden bed dirt causes poor plant growth.

  5. belinda says

    Also you can take the tree pitch and put it in a jar with some oil ( like cooking oil) let it stand for 2 weeks, strain and you have turpentine .

  6. JSW says

    Shelter; cordage; fire; sap makes good bandage/skin covering, also tastey to chew like gum; bark can be used as shoe soles, glued on with the sap…

  7. rtwaywrongdir says

    Drinking too much tea can cause kidney damage. Short-term it is a great source of vitamin A and C. Pine sap can be used to treat burns and skin infections.

  8. Lostfalls says

    Pine Tar – used for treating roofing material and the bottoms of boats, also still used in veterinary care for hooves and chickens, also still commonly used in cold process soap although it is now not recommended unless you can find "creosote free" pine tar. Tricky, but not impossible to make yourself – care must be taken as all ingredients are very flammable and the process requires heat…

  9. Martha says

    This reminds me of the 1970's and Euell Gibbons' famous line, "Many parts of a pine tree are edible." I've quoted and chuckled over that line for years. Now it has a whole new dimension. I've come a long way, baby. (I am really dating myself with these quotes!)

  10. Stephan says

    pine needle tea is very good to heal pneumonia. I know of a guy that almost died of it. The tea saved him when nothing else was working. Pure pine sap is also very good to heal deep flesh wounds, but you need a pure one. I have always bought it. I am not sure how they purify it. And even just breathing the air around pine trees is very healing!

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