Herb: Jack Pine
Latin name: Pinus banksiana
Synonyms: Pinus divaricata, Pinus hudsonica
Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Medicinal use of Jack Pine:The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers. A poultice of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of deep cuts. The leaves have been used in a herbal steam bath to clear congested lungs. They have also been used as a fumigant to revive a comatose patient.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Barren sandy or rocky soils, sometimes forming extensive forests.
Edible parts of Jack Pine:Seed - raw or cooked. Rich in oil with a slightly resinous flavour. They are very small and fiddly to utilize, being only 2 - 3mm long. Young cones - cooked. Inner bark. No more information is given, but the bark can usually be eaten raw or cooked. It can also be dried, then ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc. A refreshing drink is made from the leaves. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.
Other uses of the herb:A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles. Various native North American Indian tribes made a string from the long roots of this species and used it to stitch the bark of their canoes. In a sandy soil, the roots of this species extend near the surface of the soil for perhaps 10 metres and are easy to pull out of the ground for their entire length. When gathered, they were made into coils and sunk beneath the surface of water until the outer bark had loosened from the root. They were then peeled and split in half, each half being a serviceable cord for sewing together canoes and bark strips intended for the roofs of wigwams and other purposes. 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. Wood - fairly light, soft, coarse, weak. It weighs 27lb per cubic foot. It is mainly used for fuel, though occasionally also for posts, pulp and lumber.
Propagation of Jack Pine:It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4°C can improve the germination of stored seed. Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away.
Cultivation of the herb:Barren sandy or rocky soils, sometimes forming extensive forests.
Known hazards of Pinus banksiana:The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.