Information on Pine Needles

Overview

Pine needles are types of leaves that grow on pine trees. Pine trees are part of the Pinus genus and Pinaceae family, and are evergreen plants. There are approximately 115 different species of pine trees in existence. They are coniferous plants. There are four different varieties of leaves on pine trees, which include pine needles, cotyledons (also known as seed leaves), scale leaves and juvenile leaves.

Characteristics

Pine needles are adult leaves of pine trees. The photosynthetic leaves are deep green in color, and appear together in bunches that are also known as fascicles. The fascicles all emerge out of a tiny bud that is situated on a dwarf shoot. Bud scales tend to stay on the bunches functioning as basal sheaths.

Time Frame

Pine needles stay on the trees generally between a year and a half and four years, depending on the specific variety of pine tree. If a pine shoot should experience some damage (for example, being consumed by an animal), the fascicles that are located alongside the damage will produce a bud that can then serve as a substitute for all of the lost foliage.

Pests

Pine needles are occasionally consumed by pests. These pests include goats, pine sawflies (the Symphytan variety) and moth and butterfly species of the Lepidoptera insect order.

Culinary

There is a popular culinary application for pine needles of pine trees. A tea can be made using deep green and young pine needles. To make this tea, steep the needles in boiling water. This beverage is particularly common in Scandinavian nations such as Sweden, where it is known as "tallstrunt." The tea is rich in vitamins such as A and C.

Medicinal Benefits

Pine needles also offer health benefits. Oil that is extracted from pine needles is used as a nutritional supplement to battle against circulatory issues and infection. Pine needle oil is also used as a natural remedy for digestive discomforts and problems. The oil also can be applied topically over acne or wounds, as it offers both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that can speed up the healing process.

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About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.