Herb: Scot's Pine

Latin name: Pinus sylvestris

Synonyms: Pinus rubra

Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Medicinal use of Scot's Pine:

Scot's pine has quite a wide range of medicinal uses, being valued especially for its antiseptic action and beneficial effect upon the respiratory system. It should not be used by people who are prone to allergic skin reactions whilst the essential oil should not be used internally unless under professional supervision. The turpentine obtained from the resin is antirheumatic, antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy in the treatment of kidney, bladder and rheumatic affections, and also in diseases of the mucous membranes and the treatment of respiratory complaints. Externally it is used in the form of liniment plasters and inhalers. The leaves and young shoots are antiseptic, diuretic and expectorant. They are harvested in the spring and dried for later use. They are used internally for their mildly antiseptic effect within the chest and are also used to treat rheumatism and arthritis. They can be added to the bath water for treating fatigue, nervous exhaustion, sleeplessness, skin irritations. They can also be used as an inhalant in the treatment of various chest complaints. The essential oil from the leaves is used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and also for digestive disorders such as wind. An essential oil obtained from the seed has diuretic and respiratory-stimulant properties. The seeds are used in the treatment of bronchitis, tuberculosis and bladder infections. A decoction of the seeds can be applied externally to help suppress excessive vaginal discharge. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are "Self-reproach", "Guilt feelings" and "Despondency". The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Invigorating".

Description of the plant:


25 m
(82 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Forming woods in the mountains of Scotland.

Edible parts of Scot's Pine:

Inner bark - dried and ground into a powder and used in making bread. It is often mixed with oatmeal. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails. 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 reddish yellow dye is obtained from the cones. This tree yields resin and turpentine. 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. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used in perfumery and medicinally. A fibre from the inner bark is used to make ropes. The roots are very resinous and burn well. They can be used as a candle substitute. The leaves are used as a packing material. The fibrous material is stripped out of the leaves and is used to fill pillows, cushions and as a packing material. Trees are very wind resistant and quite fast growing. They can be planted as a shelterbelt, succeeding in maritime exposure. Wood - light, soft, not strong, elastic, durable, rich in resin. Used in construction, furniture, paper manufacture etc. A good fuel but it is somewhat smokey.

Propagation of Scot's 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:

Forming woods in the mountains of Scotland.

Known hazards of Pinus sylvestris:

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.