In times of turmoil, we may call on White Pine— known by the indigenous Iroquois as the “Peace Tree”. The presence of this tree ushers us into a place of gentleness, like the soft brush of its needles against the skin. A deep inhale of its terpene-rich aroma allows us to ground into clarity. We can let go as we grow into a new, difficult phase— the unknown.
Easily identified by their long, slender needles, White Pine surrounds us abundantly here in the Northeast. To know a White Pine is present, you sometimes need to look up: these fast-growing grandmothers often reach 150 feet. Though, to know where these trees stand, you can also scour the forest floor for their fallen branches.
White Pines generously drop limbs as they climb in height, especially in windy circumstances. I see this as an energetic signature of their medicine: this tree guides us through the process of shedding, so we may continue to grow and remain steady in uncertain times.
As long as the needles on the fallen branches still hold their green color, you can collect them for medicine. Snip off the needles and small twigs into your basket to gather.
White Pine needles are shown to be 5x higher in Vitamin C, by volume, than oranges. These needles and twigs are abundant in resins, essential oils, and acids, which primarily act on the respiratory system. Indicated for wet, mucousy coughs, White Pine will help expectorate fluid from the throat and lungs. This tree helps us breathe.
To maintain most of its heat-sensitive Vitamin C, a simple tea can be made of the needles by chopping them up and steeping them in freshly boiled water for about 10 minutes. This tea is slightly sweet, piney, and surprisingly delicious. It’s been one of my favorites as of late.
To make a stronger cough medicine, combine 1 part chopped needles & twigs to 2 parts water, cover, and gently simmer for about an hour, until the water is just above the pine. Then, strain out the plant, and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced in half. To this, add maple syrup or honey to taste, refrigerate, and take frequently! It’ll last about 1-2 weeks in the fridge.