Nut Pines

Most pines produce small seeds and so are not considered suitable as a food. The pines that produce seed the size of sunflower seeds or larger are considered to be edible nut pines. There are about a dozen species of the nearly 100 pines worldwide that can be used for food. Native peoples of the Western United States have been using about 5 species of pine as a food source. There is a small market today where the nuts are collected from the wild and sold locally. The Colorado pinyon pine is the most cold hardy of these. In Asia, there are two pines that are important, the Korean pine, which is native from Korea in the south to Manchuria in the north, and the Siberian pine which is native north of the Korean pine to the tree line in Siberia. In Europe, there are two species, the Swiss stone pine (considered by some to be identical to the Siberian pine), and the Italian stone pine. Several nut pines species will grow in Ontario. The most suitable for our climate would be the Korean pine and the Siberian or Swiss stone pines. They will grow anywhere that red and white pines are native. The nuts are about the size of a pistachio nut

No cultivars of pines have been selected for nut production. All of the current nuts that are sold are collected from the wild. China is a major source of imported nuts, from Korean pines mainly. These pines are slow growing and even slower to begin bearing. They can take 10 years or more to begin setting filled cones. After about 5 years the trees begin to grow more rapidly, growing 30 cm or more each year.

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