Common Names: Pinion Pine, Pinyon Pine
Latin Name: Pinus edulis
Family: Conifer – Pine Family
General: Tree to 10 m tall; trunk up to .6 m in diameter, often dividing into several trunks at or near the base, bark light brown, crown egg-shaped broadening with age, branches upwardly angled.
Buds: 5-10 mm long, resinous, needles in bundles or 1 or 2 or 3 each needle 2.45 cm long gently curved, stiff, sticking together, last 4-9 years.
Cone/Seeds: Cones mature in 2 years; Pollen cones 7-10 mm long, yellowish, brown; seed cones 3.5-5 cm long, broadly egg shaped to nearly spherical with 15-40 seed scales, green before maturity, ripening yellowish brown, opening widely to release seeds, falling unstalked or very short stalked.
Habitat: Southwestern United States, centered on the Four Corners area from southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and trans-Pecos Texas; from the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the Eastern Slopes of the Sierra Nevadas. Forming pure stands or mixed with junipers in Pinion-Juniper woodland on dry slopes, hilltops, and tablelands 4000-7000 feet (you will find them dispersed higher elevations as well.)
Traditional Uses and History:
-The succulent and sweet inner bark has been used as a thickening agent in cooking.
-“Pine Nuts” continue to be valued by the cultures of the south west U.S. for their fat
content and high protein. Perhaps you’ve experienced them in a gourmet dish.
– Pine-needle tea (not just Pinion) is high in vitamin A and C. Drunk tonically in the winter for its fresh, zesty flavor, this tea helped prevent and cure scurvy.
– Tea steam was inhaled for all sorts of chronic/acute respiratory issues.
– Diffused steam was used to freshen the air.
– Fresh tea was used for its anti-septic properties.
– Some tribes used the strong pine-needle (not just Pinion) tea as a contraceptive.
– The inner bark was used as a dressing for scalds, burns, and skin infections.
– Pine pitch was chewed to soothe sore throats and sweeten bad breath and was taken internally to treat kidney problems and tuberculosis. Also used for sore gums and general gum health.
– Warmed sap was applied to sore muscles, arthritic joints, swellings, and skin infections, also heated until it was black and mixed with bone marrow as a salve for burns.
Part Distilled: Needles and twigs.
Major Chemical components, Case History, & Research Facts of the Essential Oil:
Chemical composition high in Monoterpene family. This chemical family is known to be effective airborne deodorizers and purifiers. Also known to be anti-cancerous, effective for rheumatic/arthritic conditions, preventing bone loss amongst many attributes.
This essential oil also has a high content of Bornyl Acetate which is known to be relaxing.
Safety: Oils high in monoterpenes can cause skin irritation if the charge (distillate material) has been chipped and shredded prior to distillation and disitlled at high pressure. These compounds are not water-soluble, avoid in bathtub unless they are well diluted in carrier oil or fatty substance. Internal ingestion of essential oils high in monoterpenes can lead to liver and kidney toxicity. Internal use of essential oils should always be under the very careful guidance of an experienced clinical aromatherapist. Internal use as my dear friend Barb Lucks puts it “Minimum benefit, maximum risk.”
Scientific research of the essential oils isolated chemical compounds have found their actions to be: Anti-bacterial/fungal/inflammatory/oxidant/viral/spasmodic/rheumatic, analgesic, decongestant, mucolytic, expectorant, relaxing, rubefacient, immune supporting, generally strengthening, tonifying.
Uses and Indications for Essential Oil:
-Diffuse to cleanse and purify air.
-Blend with other pain relieving essential oils.
-Apply regularly for arthritic/rheumatic conditions to relieve and heal.
-Use for respiratory inhaler or apply to chest for respiratory conditions.
-For traumatic muscle injury, or over use.
-Antiseptic for respiratory infections.
-Apply to any area with inflammation.
-A drop or two under the ears and a whiff up the nose helps relieve fatigue.
-An excellent flu shield and medicine if flu stricken.
-Male stimulant and restorative.
-Stimulant of the adrenal cortex.
-Allergy relief for the sinus system.
-Stimulates blood circulation.
-Balancing, inner rest/ strength, to relieve anxiety and tension and mental stress.
-For those in final passage.
Energetics: Mothering, gentle, loving, warming, holding, acceptance, balance, clarity, grounding, protection, purifying, restorative, up lifting. Can help remove energy blockages. I think of Pinion Pine as the “Lavender” of Conifers.
Blending: Both uplifting and grounding, great in an inhaler for congestions/respiratory relief, blends nicely with other Conifers. Use in any inflammation salve/balm.
Aroma: Balsamic, coniferous, Earthy, fresh, piney, rich, woody.
Safety: NOT FOR INTERNAL USE. Avoid eyes and orifices. Always do a small test drop on the back of your hand to check for allergic reaction or skin irritation before further application. Should irritation occur, apply any vegetable type oil such as olive to diffuse the chemical reactions. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your mid-wife before using any essential oil!
No ! FDA Approval. This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. This profile is for education about traditional uses and what scientific research is learning about the complexity of phyto-chemistry. Do not use this document to treat or diagnose any dis-ease.
Rose, Aromatherapy Book
Kershaw, MacKinnon, and Pojar, Plants of the Rocky Mountains
Still Point Aromatics
Aromahead Institute curriculum
Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West
Kershaw, Edible Plants of the Rockies
Eckenwater, Conifers of the World
Elpel, Botany in a Day