March – Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Scots pine is an evergreen one of just three conifers that are native to the UK, and are also found in native Northern Europe.

Five thousand years ago it covered Britain in a vast forest. Now the only remnants are found in the Scottish Highlands, in what was once the great Caledonian forest.

The Scots Pine has unique characteristics that make it easy to identify. It has green-blue needles that grow on shoots in pairs. The bark is orangey brown and scales more with age (we can sympathise).

Mature trees can grow up to 35m tall and have been known to live for 700 years. This means that right now there are trees in the ground that would have been alive through 30 British Monarchs (and 2 Lord Protectors of the Common wealth.) There will also be trees that have lived through many famous battles, including the Battle of Hastings, the Battle of Agincourt,  the Battle of Trafalgar, the Battle of Waterloo and many many others- there have been quite a few in British History as our Monarchs loved a good old war.

Famously the Scots Pine was used for the Masts of HMS Discovery- Captain Scott’s famous vessel that carried him and his crew on the ill-fated trip to the Antarctic. Such a shame they couldn’t take more to burn and keep them warm!

Pine cones symbolise male fertility. And in the island of Orkney when a Mother had just given birth, a burning pine cone would be waved around her bed in order to ‘purify’ her. (I would much prefer a lovely Neom or Oliver Bonus scent burning peacefully in the corner my self).

Medicinal and Pharmacological properties: In folk medicine, the resin from Pine trees holds antiseptic properties. It used to be said that using warmed pine resin on a linen cloth, could draw out infection from wounds. It also could be made into a cough syrup by maturing it on a sunny window ledge with some sugar.

Other medicinal uses include Pine Bark as a treatment for fevers and its buds for the treatment of scurvy.

The Scots Pine has unique characteristics that make it easy to identify. It has green-blue needles that grow on shoots in pairs. The bark is orangey brown and scales more with age (we can sympathise).

Todays Modern herbalists still use Scots Pine in different forms for treating ailments. The needles for treating bronchitis, tuberculosis, and Urinogenital problems. The Oil distilled from the needles is also used as a rub for muscle stiffness and arthritic problems.

The Scots Pine has unique characteristics that make it easy to identify. It has green-blue needles that grow on shoots in pairs. The bark is orangey brown and scales more with age (we can sympathise).

Sources: Hatfield’s Herbal ‘The curious stories of Britains Wild Plants, Woodland Trust and The New Sylva by Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblett