There are many species of pine trees; scotch pine, longleaf pine and dwarf pine are used medicinally. Other pine species may be used for timber or as turpentine.
Pine trees belong to the the Pinaceae or Abietaceae plant family; pine trees are coniferous and grow predominantly in the northern hemisphere in countries such as northern Europe, Russia, North America and Canada. Pine trees are capable of surviving the harsh winters of these environments. Pine trees usually live a long life and range in size.
The Scotch Pine Tree
One of the most common species of pine trees is the scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris); the scotch pine tree can grow up to 131 feet, has a red-brown bark and long, green needles. It also has orange-yellow flowers. Scotch pine is native to Eurasia but is now cultivated in Russia, Europe, Scandinavia and eastern USA; scotch pine is used as an essential oil, for timber and furniture making.
The Longleaf Pine Tree
The Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a pine species which is used predominately for essential oil in aromatherapy, as a source for turpentine and in the timber industry. It is a tall, evergreen tree which is native to south eastern USA; other synonyms for the longleaf pine include pitch pine and southern yellow pine.
Uses of the Longleaf Pine Tree
The longleaf pine is used medicinally and is found in disinfectants, detergents, insecticides and veterinary antiseptic sprays; as an essential oil, longleaf pine is used to treat asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis, poor circulation and lumbago. Longleaf pine resin is the major source of American gum turpentine, although both the the Mexican white pine (Pinus ayacahuite) and slash pine (Pinus elliottii) are used in the USA as a turpentine source too.
The Dwarf Pine
The dwarf pine (Pinus mugo var. pumilio) is actually a shrubby, small tree growing up to 39 feet in height; the dwarf pine has a black bark and clustered needles. It is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe; the dwarf pine may also be known as mountain pine.
Uses of the Dwarf Pine
The dwarf pine is not used as an essential oil in aromatherapy or in any other therapeutic applications due to its hazardous chemical make-up; however, the dwarf pine is used as both a fragrance and flavor additive in cough and cold mixtures and analgesic ointments. It is used in the cosmetic and perfumery industry too.
Mediterranean Species of Pine
Mediterranean species of pine include:
The Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) – native to the Mediterranean region and related to the Aleppo pine; the Maritime pine is usually found growing at lower altitudes than a lot of mountain pines. It is considered valuable for its timber, particularly in France.
The Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) – native to the Mediterranean region and used extensively in timber production and in landscaping. The Aleppo pine is a medium sized tree.
The Turkish pine (Pinus brutia) – native to the eastern Mediterranean region, particularly Turkey; the Turkish pine is a medium sized tree found at lower altitudes and used mainly for use as timber.
The Definition of Pine Trees
The term pine is often used to describe a coniferous tree which has needles; this may not, in fact, be botanically correct due to the wide variation of pine species classification. Some pine trees may be small and shrubby, such as the dwarf pine, or may be more like the ‘traditional’ pine, such as scotch pine; in addition, pine trees may be found in mountain forests or closer to sea level, such as the Turkish pine.