Foraging Wild Nuts: Pine Nuts

Photo of Eastern White Pine Cone Scales

Ever wondered where pine nuts come from?  From pine tree cones*, of course!  This partly dismantled cone of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) didn't have any pine nuts to show (botanically speaking they are seeds), but the paired indents on the underside of each bract mark where the seeds developed.  Nearly mature, unopened cones can be collected and dried or heated to induce opening.  While all of our native species produce edible seeds, none are as large as imported, store-bought varieties.

*These female seed cones are not to be confused with the short-lived male pollen cones.

2 thoughts on “Foraging Wild Nuts: Pine Nuts”

  1. Josh, thanks for posting this! I knew that pinyon pines in the west produce large seeds, but I was not sure if they are as large as the imported ones, so I just looked into it. I found that there are several species of pine out west that do produce seeds of a size comparable to imported pine nuts, but they are not grown commercially to any great extent. The reason seems to relate to politics and land use practices and regulations. You can buy native American pine nuts online, and my reading makes me want to do so, because it would support the market for these nuts.
    You can see size comparison of pinyon vs.Chinese/Siberian pine nuts here:
    http://www.pinenut.com/pine-nuts/pine-nuts-nutrition-value.shtml
    And if you navigate around on that same website, you can read a bit about the politics. Now I’m gonna go order me some American pine nuts!

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