Herb: Pitch Pine


Latin name: Pinus palustris


Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)



Medicinal use of Pitch 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. The turpentine was formerly used in the treatment of colic, chronic diarrhoea, worms, to arrest bleeding from tooth sockets and as a rubefacient.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
30 m
(98 feet)

Flovering:
March
to April

Habitat of the herb:

Poor acid soils that are low in organic matter on sandhills, flats and scrubland from sea level to 650 metres, but usually near the coast.

Edible parts of Pitch Pine:

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. 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. Carpets are woven from the leaves. This species is exceedingly rich in resinous secretions and is a major source of resin and turpentine in America, but it is too tender in Britain for it to be used here. 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, perfumery, 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 - heavy, very hard, tough, strong, coarse grained, durable. It weighs 44lb per cubic foot. It is largely used for construction, pulp, interiors of buildings, masts, fencing, fuel, flooring, charcoal.

Propagation of Pitch 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 4C 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:

Poor acid soils that are low in organic matter on sandhills, flats and scrubland from sea level to 650 metres, but usually near the coast.

Known hazards of Pinus palustris:

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.