Power of the Pine

Growing up, our neighbors had a small row of pine trees that bordered their property and ours. 

Based on the size, they had been planted decades before my parents moved into the neighborhood. These pine trees next to our home represented pine sap on our car, pine needles, and pinecones to rake up and put by the road for pickup, and root obstacles to avoid when cutting the lawn.  

As a kid, I really did not see any value in pine trees and really did not like them.  As I got older, I started hearing stories about loblollies and longleafs that my great-grandfather grew. 'What in the world are loblollies and Longleafs?' I thought to myself. To my surprise these were very similar to the pine trees that I disliked growing up. 

My great-grandfather grew, planted, counted (also known as timber cruising), ran a sawmill, built furniture and more to support a family of seven back in the early 1900s. He also built many homes that are still standing more than 125 years later, out of heart pine, which is nearly impossible to get now unless it is reclaimed. More on this interesting topic later.  

Fast-track to the present; I have been blessed with a dozen pine trees on my property which have provided plenty of free mulch to dress the tops of my Vego raised beds to help retain moisture.

Hori Hori knife to create pine mulch | Vego Garden

The pine straw also provides mulch around our fruit trees and landscaping around our home. My great-grandfather was able to find several uses for them, so might I also be able to do this as well? Armed with a skill at researching, I set out to broaden both my understanding as well as become more intentional, which is becoming more and more important as I grow older.                     

In the behavioral health profession, we work with clients to become more intentional, but what exactly is this skill? 

Being intentional means making deliberate choices to reflect what is most important to us," according to a section from Intentional Living: Tips to Be Intentional in Everything You Do 2021. "Becoming intentional can help us maintain a positive mindset, reach goals, experience more clarity, and be more present. It can also increase our focus and commitment and bring more purpose and meaning to our lives. Instead of fearing failure, individuals who intentionally learn from their mistakes continue to make the best of their circumstances.” 

There are more than 126 types of pine trees worldwide | Vego Garden

In all, there are more than 126 types of pine trees worldwide  Some of the noted wood uses of the pine include pulpwood, plywood, construction lumber, utility poles, pilings, posts, sawlogs, flooring, fatwood, and a source of turpentine and resin. 

The most sought-after pine product is heart pine. Heart pine refers to the non-living center of the pine tree, while the outer layers of wood are known as sapwood. The center of the pine tree is preferred due to its strength, hardness, and coloration.

The longleaf pine, which is the favored tree for heart pine, nearly went extinct due to logging. Before the 18th century, in the United States, longleaf pine forests covered approximately 90-million acres - and now only three percent of the original forested area. These pine trees, 80 to 120 feet tall, require 100 to 150 years to become full size and can live up to 500 years. An inch of heart pine requires 30 years growth. Currently heart pine for building and woodworking is procured by reclaiming old lumber and recovering logs, felled pre-1900, from rivers.

Flora and fauna

There are still other uses for pine trees. Pine trees produce seeds that are eaten by birds and small mammals like the fox squirrel, and are nesting trees for a variety of bird species. 

Rolls of pine straw | Vego Garden

As mentioned earlier, pine needles from pine trees are a natural mulch. Using this type of mulch can help regulate soil temperature along with helping reduce weed growth, and as mentioned improve moisture retention. As a mulch, pine straw can last from six months to five years, making it a popular choice for areas that require low-maintenance mulching. It is also noted that a 35-pound bale can cover 50-square feet. Pine straw is also an excellent source of nutrients for plants. As it decomposes, it releases nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus into the soil. 

Health benefits of pine

Medicinal Power of the Pine | Vego Garden

According to Sharma et al. (2016) in their article about loblolly pines, the needles from loblolly pines contain essential oils (EOs) with antibacterial properties. The EOs are consistently found throughout the loblolly pine-growing season. Sharma et al. (2016) included that both longleaf and slash pine are scarred or bored near the base of the tree with resin being captured and distilled.  

Additionally, in an article on pine bark extract, Maimoona et al. (2011) noted that “pine bark to reduce inflammation can be traced back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, in 400 BC. French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew drank pine-bark tea during the winter of 1534, which proved wonderful in preventing scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. Pine Bark Extract, when dried, is a brown powder that remains stable if kept in a dark and dry place. The bark has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Some protective effects against renal damage and against oxidative damage have also been noted along with use in cardiovascular disorders. This extract can delay the uptake of glucose as an anti-diabetic agent and has shown significant interaction for memory-based cognitive variables, displaying improved working memory and improving the clinical symptoms of ADHD, as a remedy for migraines, and stabilizer in food storage. Pine bark extract can also be used in skincare, in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, and in helping with tolerance of chemotherapy.  

Lots to learn and plenty of patience

For landowners, harvesting pine trees for lumber only happens once or twice, if you are lucky, in one’s lifetime. However, there are still ways to benefit while pine trees are growing including carbon credits and hunting leases. I’m sure there are many other uses to explore related to the pine.

Learning has been an integral part of our family with more than six generations of educators. Just maybe, I can pass this search on to the next generation and additional uses of this valuable resource can be found.


Intentional Living: Tips to Be Intentional in Everything You Do. (2021, December 14). https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-achieve-peace-of-mind 

Sharma, A., Goyal, R., & Sharma, L. (2016). Potential biological efficacy of Pinus plan species against oxidative, inflammatory and microbial disorders.  BMC COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE, 16, 35. https//doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10/1186/s12906-016-1011-6

Maimoona, A., Naeem, I., Saddiqe, Z., & Jameel, K. (2011). A review of biological, nutraceutical and clinical aspects of French maritime pine bark extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(2), 261-277. http://doiorg.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10/1016/j.jep.2010.10.041


Leave a comment