Pine - 'Humble and Prosperous'

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Humans call me Pine but I have many names: 

  • ‘Pinus sylvestris’
  • ‘Ailim’
  • ‘Tree of Mid Winter’
  • ‘Gius’
  • 'Tree of Healing and Protection’
  • ‘Pinon’
  • ‘Fyr’

I am a direct descendant of the primeval forests and I stand tall and straight reaching 30 metres in height. 

I can live to be hundreds of years old so I need my strong tap roots to prevent me from toppling in high winds. 

I am also very hospitable and offer protection for other more sensitive species. 

I grow in the wildest of mountain places all over the Northern Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to the Equator.

My bark is warm in colour, and my leaves – pine needles – grow in pairs (Single = Spruce; Pairs = Pine and Lots = Larch). 

In Spring I produce two kinds of flowers – male and female. My male flowers clustering around the base of my new growth, contain lots of pollen, and my female flowers, once dusted with the pollen, form into little flower-cones, which once fully grown contain little brown seeds with wings. 

My cones – or tree eggs – can open when its dry and close when it’s wet – so if you carry me around in your pocket I can tell you what weather will come.

I am a quick growing tree and used in the building of houses. As I grow tall and straight, railway sleepers, telegraph poles, masts of old ships and their hulls were created from my wood. 

My resin is so thick it can be used as pitch to seal boats and barrels, makes sealing wax, and rosin to coat a violin’s bow and make it sing sweeter.  

My resin is said to cure pneumonia and lung problems and has great antiseptic properties. 

Drink tea made from my needles as I am full of vitamin C, and my nut filled cones were an important source of food when winter supplies dwindled. 

Long ago people would burn pine needles during the long winter months to purify the air and blow the dark thoughts away. 

In many cultures, I am a symbol of humbleness, good fortune and prosperity. 

Long ago great pyres of my wood were lit on the Midwinter Solstice, the shortest day, to celebrate the passing of the year and draw back the Sun. 

My branches and yule logs were brought into the house and decorated to provide light and warmth and serve as a reminder of the immortal life force. 

I was used in Scotland to mark the burial places of warriors and chieftains. 

In many cultures, people believed that the Faerie folk lived in my great forest, and also old women who may or may not give shelter for a wandering wayfarer.

In ancient Roman mythology I was sacred to the God Attis who was changed into a Pine after being killed by a boar. 

In Egypt Osiris, the God of Magic and a tree spirit, was carved from my wood and placed in a hollow made in my trunk. 

So take a walk through my ancient forests. Close your eyes and you will hear the breathe of my tribe flowing and whispering like the rising and falling of the sea. Breathe in my scent and the weariest of hearts will be restored I can guarantee!

Many, many thanks to Sally York from the Forestry Commission Scotland for giving me permission to reprint the above from Tree Stories - A Learning Resource written by Claire Hewitt .

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