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How do Pine Nuts Grow?

By Shayla Perkins
How do Pine Nuts Grow?

Pine nuts are edible seeds from the cones of pine trees. Pines are evergreen trees characterized by needle like leaves and production of pine cones. Pine nuts are a source of protein and dietary fiber. They are often added to meat, fish and vegetable dishes. And they are an essential ingredient in Italian pesto sauces. There are 115 different species of pines, but only about 20 of those species are used to harvest pine nuts for culinary purposes. There are other species, of pine, which can also harvest edible pine nuts. However, the seeds are too small and not considered for human consumption. Some pines used to harvest pine nuts are stone, armand, siberian, pinon, torrey, coulter and gray pines.

Stone Pines

stone pine tree

Stone pines are harvested in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. It has been harvested for edible pine nuts since pre-historic times. Their pine cones take about 36 months to fully mature. The pine nuts are large, pale brown, with a powdery black coating. Other names for the stone pine includes the umbrella pine, European nut pine, Italian stone pine and parasol pine.

Siberian Pine

Siberian Pine Nuts

The Siberian pine belongs to the white pine group and is harvested in Siberia. The Siberian pine cones are 5 to 9 cm long which produce seeds that are 9 to 12 mm with a vestigial wing.

Pinyon Pine

Leaf of Pinyon Pine

The pinyon pine is harvested in Mexico and Southwest United States. They produce shiny pine cones which grow individually and the end of the branches. When dried, the pinyon cones open and release about two dozen wingless seeds.

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pine Cone

The torrey pine grows along the coast San Diego, California in the United States and Santa Rosa Island of Santa Barbara. The torrey pine produces large heavy pine cones which yields large, hard shelled seeds.

Coulter Pine

Coulter Pine Cone

Coulter pines are grown in California, United States and Baja California, Mexico. The pine cones, produced from this tree, are nicknamed "widowmakers" and are the largest of all the pine tree species. The spiny cones are about 8 to 16 inches long and weigh 4 to 10 lbs.

Gray Pine

Gray Pine Cone

The gray pines are grown in California, United States. This tree produces large and heavy pine cones.


About the Author


Shayla Perkins has a B.S. in biology and chemistry. She has worked in pharmaceutical research and development since 2001, and is currently working with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Perkins' writing experience includes protocols, technical reports, intermediate synopsis and co-editing of journal submissions.