Pine Cone Facts

May 1, 2012

We had so much fun last month finding interesting facts about cedar for you guys, we decided to do it for pine cones this month!

  • Here are some fun facts about pine cones that you may not have known.
  • Pine cones are the reproductive parts of pine trees
  • There are both male and female pine cones.
  • Male pine cones are soft and small.
  • Female cones are the ones we generally associate with pine cones.
  • Female pine cone start out soft, green and sticky. They grow into the hard brown cones to protect the seeds after they are fertilized.
  • The female cones grow for a few years while the seeds mature, then they open up to let the wind distribute the seeds.
  • Pine cones that you find on the ground are female pine cones that have completed their reproductive process.
  • The Canadian Hemlock produces the smallest pine cone. Its cones measure around one inch.
  • The biggest pine cones are 8-16 inches long and can weigh up to 10 pounds. They come from the Coulter Pine, named for Irish botanist Thomas Coulter, which is found in Southern California and Northern Baja Mexico.
  • Sugar Pines create the longest pine cones. The cones it makes can grow up to 24 inches long.
  • Maine’s state flower is the White Pine Cone & Tassel.
  • Many species of birds and squirrels feed on pine cones, including crossbills, woodpeckers and the gray and red varieties of squirrels.
  • Humans also eat parts of the pine cones: Pine Nuts!
  • People usually toast pine nuts to improve flavor and texture.
  • There are around 20 types of pine nuts that are edible by people.
  • If you have “Pine Mouth Syndrome”, it’s because you ate nuts from the Chinese white pine. The syndrome leaves a bitter, metallic taste in your mouth and has no cure. But don’t worry, it will do away on its own after a few days.

So there you have it, a collection of tidbits about pine cones that bring to light the purpose and utility of these well-known seed pods!