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Common Species: there are about 115 Pine species, but only about 20 of them are useful for nut production. Native and widespread across the Northern Hemisphere from the subtropical through temperate regions. Edible Cones – young, very small cones can be cooked and ground into a powder to be used as a flavoring or flour adjunct.
Scaffolding for vines – Pines make great natural scaffolding to vining plants that can grow in the unique soil conditions created by the pine needles. Chill Requirement: Likely considering where this plant originates, but no reliable information is available. Pollination: Most species are not self-fertile (they need to be fertilized from another tree), and most are monoecious.
Pine roots really need to establish a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi to grow well. Innoculation is stronly recommended.
High elevation is considered a benefit for pine nut production as most Pine Nut trees are found between an elevation of 6,000-8,500 feet (1,800-2,600 meters) above sea level. Pinon nuts have outstanding nutritional value and compare favorably with pecans, peanuts, and walnuts. The Pine tree does not bear every year, and the cones are often harvested by hand from the tree, so undergrowth should be tolerated well. This can be as simple as obtaining some soil from an established pine forest and mixing this into the compost in the hole the seedling is placed.


It is thought that the higher elevation moderates ambient air moisture and maintains stable humidity. They supply all amino acids and provide significant amounts of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The most abundant fatty acids in the nuts of Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla are unsaturated oleate, linoleate and linolenate. They have been used for wood, medicine, and food by native peoples wherever Pines are found. Also, since many Pines take a number of years to start producing, a short lived vine can grow on the maturing Pine tree for a few years as needed. The harvested cones are placed in a bag (burlap is most common) and then exposed to heat (sunlight is most common). There are varieties of nut pines that start producing in 5-10 years (precocious varieties) that are starting to become more widely available. It appears that nut production can still be high at lower elevations if the tree has reatively constant through the Spring and Summer. No one is sure why this occurs, but it has been seem almost exclusively in Asian pine nuts. Pinus monophylla, Pinus nelsonii, Pinus maximartinezii, and Pinus edulis, from the same subsection Cembroides. While all Pine trees produce edible seed, most of the nuts are so small, they are not worth the trouble.


In about 20 days, the drying process causes the cone to fully open and the nuts can be extracted, usually by swinging the bag into a hard surface causing the cones to shatter and release the seed.
Scroll down for an historical and in depth discussion of American pinon pine nuts and the differences in pine nut species.
There are about 20 species of Pine that produce nuts large enough, and in enough quantity, to be considered a good food source. It is possible, but difficult to harvest the seed from the ground after the cone opens on its own.
I have not attempted making or using these, so I cannot speak to their efficacy; however, I hope to do some experiments with them in the future.
Dehulled seeds are generally rich in oil, and are characterized by high levels of both oleic and linoleic acids, generally with less than 12 % of saturated acids. As it turns out, these trees have many other functions, including being drought resistant, a windbreak,  and wood source to name a few.



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