Can You Eat Pine Needles? ( Top 4 Edible Pine Needles )

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Throughout history, people have been using pine needles in one form or another. Pine needles contain vitamins A and C, which you will have a hard time finding in the wild during wintertime. Some types of pine needles have been used as herbal remedies due to their antibacterial properties.

Consuming pine needles is not only possible but can also yield a flavorful tea. However, if you prefer a milder taste, you may find that the needles of firs and spruces, which are closely related to pines, offer a citrus-like flavor rather than the stronger turpentine-like taste associated with pine needles. These evergreen needles can be harvested and steeped to create a refreshing and aromatic tea, providing a unique culinary experience that highlights the diverse flavors found in nature.

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If you have ever watched a survival show you have probably noticed that some people will eat pine needles. Even the US Army teaches the recruits to chew on pine needles as they have a lot of vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which are extremely important for the correct function of the human body. Chewing on pine needles will make them release most of the vitamins, at that point some people just swallow it while others will spit it out.

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When I am hiking in the mountains I often carry with me some tea, and in the morning I add pine needles to the tea as some of the pine needles also give a good taste in addition to vitamins A and C. The problem is that there are a lot of poisonous pine needles which can lead to severe diarrhea or even worse. Pine needles from yew are poisonous, so you have to be able to identify them correctly.

In a survival situation, it isn’t the best idea to eat pine needles, as other than vitamins they basically do not provide you with any energy. This is why you should either use them as tea or chew on them for a while and spit them out. If you choose to eat pine needles then you will only stress your stomach as it will try to digest the pine needles and while digesting your stomach will use up a lot of water, which is fairly bad in a survival situation.

In addition to this if you aren’t in the best shape of your life, eating a handful of pine needles might even puncture your stomach, so be careful. Throughout history, people have managed to survive by eating dirt, dog food, and even grass, although they are not nutritious and they will make your situation even worse, but every bit of energy counts for more information check out my recent article Can humans eat dog food in an emergency? ( How safe is it? ).

Can You Eat Pine Needles?

Pine needles, while not commonly consumed as a regular food source, are indeed edible and can be consumed in certain situations. They are rich in vitamin C and have a pleasant citrusy flavor. However, it is important to exercise caution when eating pine needles, as some species may contain toxins or irritants. It is generally recommended to avoid consuming needles from the Norfolk Island Pine and Yew trees, as they can be toxic.

Additionally, it is advisable to collect and consume fresh, tender pine needles rather than older, tougher ones. Pine needles can be brewed into a tea or used as a flavoring in certain dishes.

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Spruce Needles

Yes, spruce needles are edible, and they are actually very healthy. Most people who eat spruce needles do it because spruce trees are fairly abundant and they contain a lot of vitamin C which could be hard to get during the wintertime. Vitamins are essential for the human body, for more information check out my recent article Survival vitamins ( Top 13 SHTF Vitamins ).

Coastal Redwood Needles

The pine needles of the coastal redwood are fairly flat and usually, they will have a white edge. Although it does have plenty of vitamin C and even some antibacterial properties, but not a lot of people consume it as the taste isn’t the best.

Ponderosa Pine Needles

A lot of people think that the ponderosa pine is poisonous, although it has been used by Native Americans for centuries if not for even longer. There have been some rumors that eating the needles from the ponderosa pine tree will make pregnant women sick and in some cases even cause abortion. Although there are no definitive studies that have proven this rumor, you should probably note that it if you are pregnant.

No matter if you want to eat it or not, you will have a fairly easy time identifying the ponderosa pine needles as these are fairly long. People who have been consuming the pine needles of the ponderosa often make tea from the needles and they do not eat them raw. If you want to know what you need to survive in the wild then check out my recent article What do you need to survive in the wild? ( Top 29 Items ).

Douglas Fir Needles

Although the name would suggest that the Douglas fir is an actual fir, but the truth is that it is actually a false hemlock. If you have lived in Oregon then you have probably had this tree in your house during the holidays. Not only the Douglas fir looks and smells good, but its pine needles are also edible. If you are wondering if you can eat grass to survive then check out my recent article Can you eat grass to survive? ( Not so Fast ! ).

Blue Spruce Needles

The needles of the blue spruce tree are edible, while some make tea from it but you can also make beer from them. You will have a fairly easy time identifying a blue spruce tree as they are blue-grayish in coloration and they are fairly often used as Christmas trees.

Benefits Of Eating Pine Needles

As long as you do not eat poisonous pine needles you should be fine. Some people are even cooking with pine needles as it gives the food a great taste, although different types of pine needles will taste differently so you should try out some edible pine needles. The greatest health benefit of eating pine needles is that they do contain vitamin C, and this can be priceless in a survival situation. Most people in a survival situation will try to get as much protein and fat in order to survive, but there are some vitamins like vitamin C without which you could develop scurvy.

Scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency, which is mostly associated with sailors. During long voyages, sailors would bring one or two types of food as most food types would spoil in a matter of days. Generally speaking, most sailors would live off hardtack as it had a fairly long shelf life. The problem with hardtack is that it doesn’t contain any vitamin C so the sailors would eventually develop scurvy, which in severe cases would make them bleed out of their nose, ears, and even their eyes.

To prevent this, most sailors would have barrels of rum with them and add lime or lemon to their rum, although in some cases when they didn’t have any lemons or limes they would put pine needles in the rum as it has even more vitamin C than lemons. There are some communities that live on mountains that use edible pine needles for cakes, and other festive dishes. If you are wondering if can you eat moss then check out my recent article Can you eat moss? ( Top 8 Edible Mosses ).

Can You Eat Pine Bark?

Yes, you can eat pine bark although it will give you some energy, but if you are not in a survival situation then it is probably not the best idea. Pine bark is mostly made out of fiber, which is fairly hard for the stomach to digest. If you eat pine bark raw, then you will probably have stomach cramps and even worse a punctured stomach. The best way to eat pine bark is by either boiling it, frying it, or making flour out of it.

Boiling pine bark will break down the cellulose of the bark, enough so that you can chew it fairly well, the problem is that once it cools off and dehydrates the pine bark will be almost as hard as before you have boiled it. If you choose to fry it then you have to fry it just like you would a stake, the problem is that this way the pine bark will start becoming harder and harder, especially if the sides of the bark are starting to get charcoal formed on them.

By far your best option, if you want to eat pine bark, is to make flour out of it. Cut the pine bark into thin strips and let the sun dry them out. Put the strips into a bowl and start crushing them, sooner or later you will make a fine powder out of it, and you can use this flour in a lot of dishes.

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, you can eat pine needles, like the Spruce needles, Coastal redwood, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and the Blue spruce. On the other hand, yew pine needles are poisonous. Pine needles have plenty of vitamin C and vitamin A, and some of them even have excellent antibacterial properties. Just as a precaution, if you are pregnant, then do not eat pine needles as some types of pine needles have been known to cause abortions.
  • Pine needles are a good source of vitamin C and can provide some additional vitamins and minerals.
  • However, it’s important to identify the specific type of pine tree and ensure that it is not toxic or treated with any chemicals or pesticides before consuming pine needles.