Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ponderosa Pine Flower

I was looking out my kitchen window at the solitary Ponderosa Pine, and thought I was seeing starfish in the branches! Red and purple pine cones! After 30 years of looking out my window at this tree, this is the first year I have noticed this event - the Ponderosa Pine is flowering.

Research reveals "... Flowering generally begins in early May. Each tree produces both male and female flowers. The yellow male flowers release huge volumes of yellow pollen on warm days from late May to early June. After pollination the magenta female flowers like this one develop into seed-bearing cones that reach full size of 3 to 6 inches by August of the next year.Cone crops are borne every 2 to 3 years; heavy crops are usually 4 to 5 years apart. Cones begin to open in early September and seed is shed until November..."
Checking further, I found these 20 uses for Ponderose Pine from Native American traditions (not my pine tree here, but a pretty picture of one):

1. Pitch used to hold the hair in place.
2. Gum used as a salve or ointment for sores and scabby skin.
3. Poultice of pitch and melted animal tallow or lard used for backache.
4. Poultice of pitch and melted animal tallow or lard used for rheumatism.
5. Boughs used in sweat lodges for muscular pain.
6. Needles jabbed into the scalp for dandruff.
7. Compound decoction of needles taken for bad coughs and fever.
8. Infusion of dried buds used as an eyewash.
9. Decoction of plant tops taken for high fevers.
10. Good medicine for the stomach.
11. Decoction of gum used as an ointment for sore eyes.
12. Poultice of warmed gum applied to the ear for earache.
13. Pitch chewed as a gum.
14. Sweet layer between bark and sap wood scraped and used for food.
15. Pitch used to cement feathers onto arrow shafts.
16. Melted pitch used to waterproof the outside of water jugs woven of willow.
17. Needles used to line food caches and cellars.
18. Bark used as fuel because it cooled quickly and enemies cannot tell how long ago camp was broken.
19. Pitch used to make torches.
20. Gum placed inside whistles and flutes to improve their sounds.

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