The green cones, roasted for about 20 minutes, are soft and syrupy in their centre. They are much relished by local Indians. Inner bark - raw or cooked. The inner bark can be used fresh or it can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups or can be added to cereal flours when making bread etc. An emergency food, it is only used when better foods are not available. A gummy exudation from the tree is chewed. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.The leaves are used as a tea substitute.
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. 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. The pitch has been used as an adhesive for mending pottery etc. Twigs and rootlets are used as a sewing material for coiled and twined baskets.Wood - light, soft, not strong, close grained, brittle. A poor lumber, but it is a good firewood, generating considerable heat when properly seasoned.
The yellow pitch-like gum is used as a protective healing covering for burns and sores.The twigs are used in sweat-baths to treat rheumatism. They are laid over hot rocks, the patient lies on them and water is occasionally sprinkled onto the rocks so that steam plus the volatile oil from the pine are constantly given off. The patient remains for 8 - 10 hours, sweating profusely and is said to invariably be able to move without pain afterwards.
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This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. The digger pine thrives in Britain. It is fast growing when young with annual height increases of 60cm not uncommon, but the trees are normally short-lived in cultivation. An open, round-topped tree, remarkable for the sparseness of its foliage. The cones are 15 - 25cm long, they open and shed their seed whilst still attached to the tree. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. This species is closely related to P. coulteri. The digger pine is cultivated on a small scale for timber in Europe. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby reducing the amount of plants that can grow under the trees.Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Problems, pests & diseases
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