If you’re stuck out in the woods and looking for food, it may be challenging at first to find a lot to eat! You might need pliers or some kind of tool to break them apart easier though. That’s where pine cones can come to the rescue, these “seed-bearing organs” come from trees and can actually be eaten! Although we would probably want to choose literally anything else if possible, if you’re at risk of dying due to starvation, then something is always better than nothing. There are a few things you have to consider though as not all pine cones can be eaten since some are poisonous!
Can You Eat Pine Cones?
The short answer is, yes! However, a few restrictions do apply. Not all pine cones you find are edible, yew trees, Norfolk Island pine, lodgepole pines, and ponderosa pine, pine cones are poisonous and should be avoided regardless of how hungry you are!
What Are Pine Cones?
Pine cones are the “seed-bearing organs” of all species of coniferous trees. There are over 500 species of coniferous trees across the world and all of them contain pine cones! Pine cones have a hard outer shell that is used to protect the seeds within the cones. The seeds are the most important part of the pine cone and the seed is what you will be eating along with a few other parts of the “cone”. Not all “cones” are pine cones, only pine trees produce “pine cones”.
How Do You Safely Eat A Pine Cone?
As long as the tree that produced the pine cone is not poisonous then technically all parts of the pine cone are safe to eat, including the outer shell (although we probably wouldn’t). Pine cones are meant to protect the seeds at all costs so they need to be strong and durable to do this job effectively. This also means that eating most parts of a pine cone may be challenging if you are eating them purely raw and fresh off the ground.
If you do need to eat a pine cone out of desperation, or you are just curious to try them, we recommend you either:
- Boil the pine cone before eating to soften it.
- You can add this to a broth or tea to eat or drink it.
- Also, try adding it to rice or some other grain to make it more palatable.
- Grind it up with a mortar and pedestal.
You may possibly injure your mouth or throat if you eat the pine cone raw since it is so tough and it is not naturally meant to be considered food!
Do you want some actual recipes you can try with pine cones? Check out these interesting ideas here.
Benefits Of Eating Pine Cones
There are a surprising amount of nutrients that you can gain from eating pine cones if you can get around the taste and texture.
- Thiamine (B1)
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
However, if you’re interested in eating pine cones for their nutritional value, we would recommend you just eat a multivitamin instead!
What Pine Cones Shouldn’t Be Eaten?
As we mentioned previously, not all pine cones should be eaten, some coniferous trees are poisonous to humans so you should stay away from them!
Yew Trees – Yew trees produce berry-like structures rather than cones and have straight, round, flat, and feathered needles. The seeds of the Yew are somewhat poisonous to both people and domestic animals, despite the fact that they are not real pines and are attractive garden plants.
Norfolk Island Pine – The South Pacific island of Norfolk Island is home to the Norfolk Island Pine, a conifer but not a real pine. Ingesting it has been shown to cause medical discomfort in animals, and handling it with bare hands has the potential to irritate the skin.
Ponderosa Pine – Long, fan-shaped needles are a characteristic of ponderosa pines, also known as blackjack pine, bull pine, or western yellow pine. Under a Ponderosa Pine, the ground is usually covered in cones. If you attempt to consume the cones, you might get poisoned.
Lodge Pole Pine – Cones from lodgepole pines are the kind of pine cones you should never eat. It includes isocupressic acid, which has been shown to be hazardous to cows, especially pregnant cows. Humans should avoid consuming it due to its toxicity.
Other Uses For Pine Cones
Pine cones actually have a few different applications besides eating them! If you’re wondering what else you can use pine cones for, here are some cool ideas!
- Meat Smoking/Seasoning
- Making Turpentine by distilling pine resin
- Waterproof canoes and add feathers to arrow shafts using pine pitch
- Lumber for building homes and furniture
- Stuffing garbage bags to make mattresses or pillows
- Mulch for garden or to raise pH of soil
- Tinder for Fire Starting
- Rabbit Food
- Making Pine Tar
- Basket Weaving
If you’re homestead or shelter is in close vicinity of pine cones, then go out and start collecting them! They can be used for quite a few useful things. Using them for fire starters, and making pine tar are a few of our favorite uses for pine cones! You really do need to utilize everything you possibly can if you’re interested in long-term wilderness survival! We try to let nothing go to waste, and we don’t think you should either! So start scavenging now and learn to identify which pine cones are safe to eat and how they can be effectively added to your arsenal of survival tools!
Can you eat pine cones? Yes! Would we? Not unless we were almost dying from starvation! Pine cones are tough to eat, do not provide sufficient calories, and are not worth the nutrition they provide. However, if pine cones are immediately available and you have no other obvious options they will help you curb your hunger a bit and supply you with some nutritional benefits. If you do like eating pine cones, then you’re in luck since there are so many species of tree that carry pine cones and they’re fairly easy to harvest!