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Pine Scotch

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  • Botanical: Pinus sylvestris
  • Family: Pinaceae
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Pine Scotch

Botanical

Pinus sylvestris

Family

Pinaceae

Known as

Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris, Schottische Kiefer, Kiefer, Gemeine Kiefer, Rotföhre, Weißkiefer, Forche

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

March to June

Parts Used

bark, seed

Aroma

balsamic, forest

Medicinal

allergies, asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs, cystitis, gout, hay fever, insomnia, muscle pain, neuralgia, rheumatism, sinusitis, gynecological issues, hay fever

Hormone & Sexual Organs

uterine cramps

Infection & Inflammation

flu, sinusitis

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, joint pain, rheumatism

Respiratory System

allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cough, difficulty breathing, hay fever, lung weakness, throat infections

Properties

antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, relaxant, restoring, sedative

Description

Pinus sylvestris is an evergreen coniferous tree growing up to 35 m in height and 1 m trunk diameter when mature, exceptionally to 45 m tall and 1.7 m trunk diameter[citation needed] and on very productive sites (in Estonia, there are some 220-year-old trees that are 46 metres tall in the forests of Järvselja). The bark is thick, scaly dark grey-brown on the lower trunk, and thin, flaky and orange on the upper trunk and branches.

The habit of the mature tree is distinctive due to its long, bare and straight trunk topped by a rounded or flat-topped mass of foliage. The lifespan is normally 150–300 years, with the oldest recorded specimens (in Sweden and Norway) just over 700 years.

The shoots are light brown, with a spirally arranged scale-like pattern. On mature trees the leaves ('needles') are a glaucous blue-green, often darker green to dark yellow-green in winter, 2.5–5 cm long and 1–2 mm broad, produced in fascicles of two with a persistent grey 5–10 mm basal sheath; on vigorous young trees the leaves can be twice as long, and occasionally occur in fascicles of three or four on the tips of strong shoots.

Leaf persistence varies from two to four years in warmer climates, and up to nine years in subarctic regions. Seedlings up to one year old bear juvenile leaves; these are single (not in pairs), 2–3 cm long, flattened, with a serrated margin.

Mature open cones and seeds

The seed cones are red at pollination, then pale brown, globose and 4–8 mm diameter in their first year, expanding to full size in their second year, pointed ovoid-conic, green, then grey-green to yellow-brown at maturity, 3-7.5 cm in length. The cone scales have a flat to pyramidal apophysis, with a small prickle on the umbo.

The seeds are blackish, 3–5 mm long with a pale brown 12–20 mm wing; they are released when the cones open in spring 22–24 months after pollination. The pollen cones are yellow, occasionally pink, 8–12 mm long; pollen release is in mid to late spring

Properties & Uses

Scot's pine has quite a wide range of medicinal uses, being valued especially for its antiseptic action and beneficial effect upon the respiratory system. It should not be used by people who are prone to allergic skin reactions whilst the essential oil should not be used internally unless under professional supervision.

The turpentine obtained from the resin is antirheumatic, antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy in the treatment of kidney, bladder and rheumatic affections, and also in diseases of the mucous membranes and the treatment of respiratory complaints. Externally it is used in the form of liniment plasters and inhalers.

The leaves and young shoots are antiseptic, diuretic and expectorant. They are harvested in the spring and dried for later use. They are used internally for their mildly antiseptic effect within the chest and are also used to treat rheumatism and arthritis. They can be added to the bath water for treating fatigue, nervous exhaustion, sleeplessness, skin irritations. They can also be used as an inhalant in the treatment of various chest complaints.

The essential oil from the leaves is used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and also for digestive disorders such as wind. An essential oil obtained from the seed has diuretic and respiratory-stimulant properties. The seeds are used in the treatment of bronchitis, tuberculosis and bladder infections. A decoction of the seeds can be applied externally to help suppress excessive vaginal discharge.

The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Self-reproach', 'Guilt feelings' and 'Despondency'. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. 


Other Uses

A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat. A reddish yellow dye is obtained from the cones.

This tree yields resin and turpentine. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields.

Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin and is separated by distillation. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc.

An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used in perfumery and medicinally. A fibre from the inner bark is used to make ropes. The roots are very resinous and burn well. They can be used as a candle substitute.

The leaves are used as a packing material. The fibrous material is stripped out of the leaves and is used to fill pillows, cushions and as a packing material. Trees are very wind resistant and quite fast growing. They can be planted as a shelterbelt, succeeding in maritime exposure. Wood - light, soft, not strong, elastic, durable, rich in resin.

Used in construction, furniture, paper manufacture etc. A good fuel but it is somewhat smokey

Cautions

The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people

Distribution

Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Albania and temperate Asia.

Constituents

 borneol, bornyl acetate, a and b-phallandrene, a and b-pinene and 3-carene.