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Pinyon Pine

Pinyon Pine

This is a short and scrubby tree, rarely reaching 30 feet or more, that is widely distributed across the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions of western North America. A major indicator tree in the pinyon-juniper life zone, P. edulis grows very slowly; trees with diameters of 4 - 6 inches can be several hundred years old.

Typically growing in pure stands or with juniper, the pinyon pine produces chunky little cones that produce a tasty nut, the pine nut. The wood of this tree is very fragrant when burned.


Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine worldwide, including the pinyon pines of North America, primarily the Colorado pinyon, single-leaf pinyon, and Mexican pinyon. The nuts are often known by the Spanish name for the pinyon pine: piñon or piñones.

Plains Apache elders interviewed for Plains Apache Ethnobotany explained that pinyon nuts were a favorite food items and eaten whenever they could be obtained.

"Another product on the pinyon pine was a chewing gum maDe from the pitch that oozed from wounds on the trunk and branches. Where the pitch congealed it became hard and glossy. This was broken off, taken home and allowed to dry. For chewing gum, a small amount of the dried pitch was taken in the mouth and chewed until it became soft and pliable. The first juice was bitter and was spit out. Sometimes water was added to the gum to get the bitter taste out faster."
Pinyon Species:

Pinus cembroides – Mexican pinyon
Pinus orizabensis – Orizaba pinyon
Pinus johannis – Johann's pinyon (includes border pinyon)
Pinus culminicola – Potosi pinyon
Pinus remota – Texas pinyon or papershell pinyon
Pinus edulis – two-needle piñon or Colorado pinyon
Pinus monophylla – single-leaf pinyon
Pinus quadrifolia – Parry pinyon 

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