PINE CONE FUN FACTS
About Pine Cones
The San Bernardino Mountain range is a unique North American mountain range in that it runs east to west and is located in a Mediterranean climate. Because the mountain range runs east to west, sunshine gives rise to a variety of plants . We have eight different native Pine trees in our area. Also there are a variety of cedar, firs and junipers that have cones (and are "conifers": cone bearing trees) but they are not a true pine cone. Pine trees all have pine needles. The San Bernardino Mountains are home to two of the biggest pine cones in the world!
The Coulter Pine
is the heaviest pine cone in the world!!! They
can weigh up to 10 pounds or more (where is the
biggest one?). These cones can be deadly if they
fall on your head. Old time loggers called them
“widow makers” because they killed loggers when
cones fell. The Indians also ate the pine nuts.
The Sugar Pine
is the longest pine cone in the world!!! Up to 24”
or maybe more (where is the longest?) The name comess
from the tree's sweet sap. The Indians used
the sap like glue as well as chewed it like gum.
The nuts are also edible. The tree is the tallest
of all pines in the world. The sugar pine can be
up to 280 feet!!
The Knob Cone Pine
is known as the hardest pine cone in the world. Knob cone is a closed cone that relies on the heat of a wildfire to open them up so the seeds drop. This cone can become embedded in the branches.
The Pinyon Pine
was prized by local Indians who not only enjoyed
the large edible brown nuts but used parts of the
tree for a variety of medicinal purposes. Placing
cones near a fire opens the scales so nuts can
be easily removed. This is the only "one needle"
pine in the world. Most pines have 3-5 needle
The Lodgepole Pine
has a small cone about 2 inches long. Used a
lot in decorations, they are fairly open and
easy to work with. The trees get their name from
their trunks which are so straight they made great
poles for the Indians’ teepees. The tallest
Lodge Pole Pine in the world is located in
the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Jeffrey Pine
also known as “gentle Jeffrey”, the prickles on
the end of its scales are turned inward so it
does’t hurt when you handle it. The Jeffrey and
the Ponderosa look alike but feel different.
The Jeffrey isn’t prickly like the Ponderosa.
Cones are typical in form and are 4-6 inches in
length. You can also identify this tree by its
bark which smells like vanilla.
The Ponderosa Pine
looks a lot like the Jeffrey, but its scales
stick out and make this pine cone “prickly.”
Its nickname is “Prickly Ponderosa.” It is
typically smaller than the Jeffrey Pine. The
Ponderosa is the most widely distributed pine
tree in North America. Frequently when Ponderosa
and Jeffrey pines inhabit the same location,
they will cross breed.
The Limber Pine
cones are thick, often curved
and are between 3-8 inches in
length. The tree is sturdy and
stout and grows at the higher
elevations. Its small branches
are so flexible they can be
tied in knots.
of Pine Cones
According to our sources, these parts of the pine tree are edible:
1. The pine nuts (seeds) - these are available for use in every day cooking to liven up salads etc.
2. Inner bark can be sliced and fried, but usually is considered only for emergency survival.
3. The young male cones - can be boiled and baked and eaten.
4. The needles - used to make tea.
5. The small twigs - can be boiled or baked and eaten as well.
Also if one had the time, the pollen can be collected and used as a substitute for flour or cornstarch. Pollen is produced by the male cones only.
So be ready the next time you go hiking or camping!
Thanks for your interest in the Pine Cone Festival - hope to see you in October!