December is filled with the scent of pine, whether it’s walking down, smelling candles at target or walking through the woods. As the plants at The Villa go into hibernation, the pine trees that once lay in the background now come forth with a plethora of uses.
One special way I use pine trees is by getting a Christmas Tree Permit for the Tahoe National Forest. This year we went into the forest and found our Christmas tree. We brought it home and it filled our home with the smell of pine. I decorated it beautifully and thanked this tree profusely for bringing light and beauty into our home as the cold, dark days of winter fell upon us.
Those expensive little pine nuts that we love for pestos, salads and more grow from these gorgeous giant beauties. Unfortunately, only about 20 species of pine produce large enough pine nuts and they do not grow at The Villa. They can be found in zone 8, like the Italian stone pine.
Pine Tree Sap
What does grow at the Villa are California foothill pines or The Gray Pine. These pine trees at The Villa produce some wonderful sap and endless pine needles and pine cones, which I will get to. But first the tree sap. I am amazed by this tree sap, I have started to collect some to add to the next batch of healing skin salve. Pine sap has astringent properties. I have read that the native Americans would use this pine sap in many different ways, one being to close up wounds, fire starting, skin issues, and chest congestion. You can chew on the sap for mouth sores or sore throat or rub it on your chest like Vicks.
Pine Needles and Pine Cones
Pine needles and pine cones are an amazing source of kindling for an aromatic and toasty fire this winter. When left to collect for years and years pine needles make great kindling for wildfires but when picked, they can be steeped in hot water to make medicinal teas. Pine Tea is high in Vitamin C and is antibacterial, antifungal, and an expectorant.