Herb: Chir Pine
Latin name: Pinus roxburghii
Synonyms: Pinus longifolia
Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Medicinal use of Chir 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 wood is diaphoretic and stimulant. It is useful in treating burning of the body, cough, fainting and ulcers.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Forms extensive forests to 2700 metres. Does best on north slopes or on good soils.
Edible parts of Chir Pine:Seed - raw or cooked. Not very nice, it has a strong flavour of turpentine and is only eaten as an emergency food. A reasonable size, the seed is up to 11mm long. A sweet edible manna exudes from the bark and twigs. It is actually a gum. 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. A resin is obtained from the sapwood. Trees are tapped for three years and then rested for three years. The yield is up to 5.5 kilos per tree. 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 wood is very resinous and can be splintered and used as a torch. A charcoal made from the leaves, mixed with rice water, is used as an ink. Wood - moderately hard. Used for construction, shingles, boxes etc. It is useful in cold climates but is not resistant to white ants.
Propagation of Chir 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:Forms extensive forests to 2700 metres. Does best on north slopes or on good soils.
Known hazards of Pinus roxburghii: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.