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Glitter Witch Gardens

Eastern White Pine

By 02/22/2024March 22nd, 2024No Comments

Materia Poetica

Eastern White Pine, or Tree of Peace
Breathe fresh aromatics for Stress Release

Acupuncture like needles in groups of five
Spell W-H-I-T-E to assist you to identify

Their needles do aid in anti-inflammation
The tea is quite helpful in coughing cessation

Pinus strobus has two cone genders taking two years to mature
The male cones cause your allergies, so lay the blame there for sure!

The White Pine oozes sticky resin, have you ever had it in your hair?
If you do, smear smooth peanut butter to get it out – do not despair.

The Iroquois sealed canoes using beeswax with pine resin
Now pine is used as Christmas trees, all part of holiday obsession

It has more vitamin C than a lemon or an orange
Take a walk through the woods and enjoy.

My Shamanic Life podcast logo
Episode 148

My Shamanic Life Podcast

Hosted by Debbie Philp

The last thing I expected to hear when Sheri Kurdakul, of Glitter Witch Gardens, shared about the eastern white pine was that it once caused a riot! You’ll hear about that plus the ecological, medicinal, and magical properties of this common but absolutely wonderful tree. Sheri starts us off with another of her herbal poems, which are always so good. Enjoy the episode!

LISTEN HERE
Pinus strobus, Katherine Lake. Ottawa National Forest, Sylvania Wilderness, Michigan
Pinus strobus

Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus, commonly known as White Pine or Eastern White Pine, is an evergreen conifer tree that is native along the Eastern seaboard.

White pine will produce both male and female cones, but it takes two years for the cones to develop and mature.

This spring, take a walk between May and June. Look for pine trees with longer needles in groups of 5. The tree makes it easy for you to remember because it spells “white.”
Count with me: (1)W, (2)H, (3)I, (4)T, (5)E.

Male cones have overlapping scales that open to release pollen. Yup, blame the men for making you sneeze and causing your eyes to get red and itchy! 🤣

Female cones begin green in color, then by the end of the first growing season, the cones will be approximately one inch long and a purplish color. During the second summer, the cones can be up to 8 in long and one inch in width as they turn yellowish-green and then a light brown in the fall as they ripen, then release their seeds into the wind to be dispersed.

FUN FACTS

  • The Eastern White Pine is often used as a Christmas Tree in the United States.
  • Pine is common for building materials, as it is soft enough to work with and easy to replant a forest
  • Pine is a common incense, as it has protective and cleansing properties.
  • If you get pine resin, also called pine sap, in your hair, olive oil will help slide it out. If it’s on your skin, high-proof alcohol (Everclear® or isopropyl alcohol) will dissolve it – pine resin is not dissolvable with water!
  • Native American tribes would eat the inner bark of the White Pine as a food source when all other food was scarce.  
  • The Iroquois would use the resin from this plant, while mixing it with beeswax, to seal their canoes.  
  • Other Native Americans would boil the bark and then apply the liquid to wounds.  
  • Natives also would drink the boiled bark for a cough suppressant.
A large eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) in Southern Ontario, Canada. Date 8 April 2021, 17:42:38 Author-Bay & Gables
Pine with cones
Preserving

Harvesting and Drying

White pine is an evergreen, so technically, you could harvest now (in February) and still get some medicinal value. But we want to make sure you are harvesting at the peak time for the tree so you are harvesting less plant material for more value – late spring and early summer. The key is looking for pine needles that have a fresh, aromatic smell and are bright green or a blueish-green hue. The needles should be flexible and soft. 

Some plants are best to harvest aerial parts in the late morning after the dew has evaporated, but pine needles are great to harvest after a big storm. When it’s safe, take a walk and look for branches that have fallen or are coming down from the tree. Use the needles from these branches, as they will be no good to the tree anymore and are a great way to ethically source needles. 

If you don’t have a recent storm to benefit from, use the “take only what you need” rule and never take from the first tree you come across. Leave plenty of needles on the tree to support its health.

Once you’ve collected your needles, gently rinse them with cold water, removing any soil, debris, or bird poop (yup, 💩 happens 😳), then gently pat them dry. Lay them out so they are not piled on top of each other, and let them air dry. With most aromatics, air drying is crucial, as using a dehydrator or oven to dry them can cause all the aromatic oils to evaporate. You don’t want that to happen!

As with all herbs being stored, make sure once they are thoroughly dry, you store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture. They will keep in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry for up to a year.

Download Herbal Academy's "Evergreen Foraging Guide"

Herbal Actions & Medicinal Uses

Parts Most Frequently Used: Needles

Flavors: Bitter; Spicy/Pungent

With any herbs and supplements, always consult with a licensed health professional before use.

Herbal Actions

There are some plants that work inside and out. White Pine is one of them because of its strong aromatics. Walk though any pine forest and feel the energy given freely from these trees. Breathe deep and feel your head open up and your mind become alert. Pine oil makes a great chest rub and foot rub too. I’ve included a recipe from Forest Bathing Central if you want to make some for yourself.

Internally, White Pine is usually taken as a tea to support healthy respiratory functions.. I’ve included a recipe for that as well so you can try it for yourself. 

Some of the herbal actions of White Pine needles include:

  • Astringent – this helps tighten the pores so they are less inflamed, which leads to…
  • Anti-Inflammatory – this can help calm those crazy sinuses by calming the tissues down.
  • Circulation Stimulation – Pine needles look like acupuncture needles, which work to open up the meridians and allow free-flowing Qi. Actually, many plants will tell you what they are good at if you just look and listen to them. 
  • Diuretic – Stimulation is going to be a theme here, as White Pine stimulates the Kidneys and helps move dampness down and out of your body.
  • Expectorant – for those damp, rattling coughs, add pine needles to transform phlegm and expel wind-cold.
Male cones of Pinus strobus in late June, upstate NY.
Recipe

White Pine Needle Tea

With fall and winter comes dry air and sore throats. Sage tea is just the thing, especially if combined with a bit of lemon and honey.
Note: Sage is generally considered safe for everyone, however, large amounts of sage are contraindicated in pregnancy.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ Cup clean, dry White Pine needles, cut into small pieces
  • Fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • 2  cup hot water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Bring the water to a boil. 
  • Add the pine needles and turn off heat.
  • Cover the pot so you don’t lose all those wonderful aromatics! 
  • Allow the needles to steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on your desired strength.
  • Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  • Drink and enjoy!

If you love to make incense, here’s a wonderful recipe for White Pine resin. Be warned though… you’ll need a LOT of patience for this one!
CLICK HERE

cup of pine needle tea

Native Ecology

According to the US Forest Service, Eastern White Pine is distributed from Newfoundland west to extreme southeastern Manitoba and south to the Great Lake States, along the Atlantic seaboard to New Jersey, and in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.  It also occurs in Iowa, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, and Delaware.

Eastern White Pine provides food and habitat for numerous wildlife species. Songbirds and small mammals eat eastern white pine seeds. The bark is a food source for cottontail and snowshoe rabbits, as well as porcupines. Red squirrels can eat the cones by extracting the seeds, while dropping plenty to be eaten by crossbills, pine siskin, and white tailed deer. Gophers graze the roots of seedlings and young trees.

Eastern White Pine forests can support a rich community of breeding birds. Bald eagles build nests in living Eastern White Pine, usually at a main branch located below the crown top. Trees with broken tops provide valuable habitat for cavity-nesting wildlife like owls, squirrels, and woodpeckers.

Young black bear cubs use large Eastern White Pine to climb to safety. In northeastern Minnesota, black bear mothers and cubs spent more than 95 percent of the time in April and May within 600 feet of either an eastern white pine or an eastern hemlock.

Horticultural Information

This is a full sun to light shade tree that can grow 2 to 3 feet per year in the right conditions. It is not necessarily favorable to grow these trees in a city or close-knit suburban neighborhoods, as heavy storms can easily bring branches down and cause property damage.

White Pine can be fussy when getting established and have a better chance to do so under a light canopy of trees. Pissodes strobi, known as the white pine weevil or Engelmann spruce weevil, is the primary weevil attacking and destroying white pines. Planting under an existing tree canopy lessens the vulnerability for young sapplings.

New USDA Hardiness Zone(s), as of 2023: 3-8

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map as of 2023
New USDA Hardiness Zones as of 2023

Materia Magicka

There is a saying to “pine over someone,” meaning to want them so bad it hurts. When I look at the ling needles of a White Pine, I think about acupuncture needles. They transform space to allow energy to flow: cleansing, healing, regeneration, rebirth.

The Tree Spirit Tarot describes the message pine delivers beautifully:

“The pine spirit is reminding us to take responsibility for our actions and to connect with our intuitive cycles and higher purpose. By embracing our sense of purpose, we are better able to stabilize what may feel shaky or uncertain. Pine also inspires us to tap into our inner light as we move through periods of darkness.”

Pine is also included in many cleaning products, albeit it is not always real pine. Pine can be used in:

  • cleansing spells
  • healing spells
  • self-transformation spells
  • shadow work

Below is some of the symbolism associated with Eastern White Pine.

Planets: Constellations:
 Mars   ♓️ Pisces
Element: Chakra:
  🜁 Air   Heart Chakra
Deities: Tarot:
  Anatolian: Cybele
  Greek: Pan
  Roman: Venus
  Greek: Attis
  Greek: Dionysus
  Middle Eastern: Astarte
  Roman: Sylvanus
  Two of Evergreens (Wands): White Pine Peacemaker
  (Tree Spirit Tarot)
Heart Chakra for Eastern White Pine

Sources

The following sources were used to research the above information. 

  • https://inspyritmetaphysical.com/products/white-pine-bark
  • https://www.themagickkitchen.com/magickal-correspondence-pine/
  • https://shamanicconnection.com/nature-wise/pine-tree-protection-healing-vitality-continuity
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_strobus
  • https://treespiritwisdom.com/tree-spirit-wisdom/pine-tree-symbolism/#:~:text=When%20pine%20tree%20appears%2C%20we,responsibility%20we%20have%20taken%20on.
  • https://extension.umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons/indicator-species/pine-fact-sheet/
  • https://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/EasternWhitePine.asp
  • https://www.foraged.com/blog/a-comprehensive-guide-to-understanding-and-utilizing-the-white-pine-needle
  • https://www.almanac.com/pine-needle-tea
  • https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/education-training/wild-ohio-harvest-cookbook/foraging-recipes/pine-needle-tea
  • https://thedruidsgarden.com/2016/07/31/tree-resins-from-eastern-north-america-harvesting-crafting-and-incense-making/
  • https://www.hep6.com/pine-tree-symbolism-facts-meaning-zodiac-superstitions-dreams-myths/
  • https://www.fs.usda.gov/database/feis/plants/tree/pinstr/all.html
  • https://shop.arborday.org/eastern-white-pine
  • https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/factsheet/pdf/fs_pist.pdf