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sugar pine seeds

Sugar pine seeds
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Sugar Pine (Pinus Lambertiana) 10 seeds

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Renowned for its mammoth cones, this evergreen tree grows to gargantuan heights in its native haunts in the western North American mountains. In cultivation it is typically of more modest size.
The long, blue-green needles of this pine occur in bundles of five on horizontal to slightly drooping branches. In spring, trees produce tiny male cones and enormous cylindrical female cones near the branch tips. The solitary or clustered female cones are sheathed with fleshy green scales that turn woody and yellow-brown as they mature. Two-year-old cones open their scales to release large edible winged seeds before falling thunderously from the tree.
Slow-growing and of slender conical habit when young, this pine eventually develops an open, oval crown and a stout trunk. Its reddish-brown to gray-brown bark becomes deeply fissured and platy with age. If wounded, the trunk exudes a sugary sap that was prized by American Indians.
This beautiful pine favors full sun and moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil. It dislikes excessive heat, cold, or wind. It makes a striking specimen for parks and other large properties, although the falling cones can present a hazard. Sugar pine is also highly susceptible to white pine blister rust. (source: learn2grow.com)

Genus – Pinus
Species – Lambertiana
Common name – Sugar Pine
Pre-Treatment – Required
Hardiness zones – 6 – 8
Height – 50′-100′ / 15 – 30 m
Spread – 25′-40′ / 7.60 – 12 m
Plant type – Large Tree
Vegetation type – Evergreen
Exposure – Full Sun
Growth rate – Medium
Soil PH – Acidic, Neutral
Soil type – Loam, Well Drained
Water requirements – Average Water
Landscape uses – Feature Plant
Germination rate – 88%
Leaf / Flower color – Green / —

For those not familiar with them, Sugar Pines are very large (150′ tall plus) pine trees that produce cones over a foot long. If you can get a full cone before it drops it’s seeds you can get over an ounce of nuts from one cone but with the size of the trees it’s pretty hard to get to the cones while they’re still on the tree. I have used my bucket truck to get to some, but most the cones are out of reach of even that monstrosity. What I tend to do is just comb over the freshly fallen cones that are on the ground and I can usually get a few nuts out of each cone. Be ready to get pitchy, the cones are covered. Another method (that I’ll admit I’ve only bothered to use once) is to spread old sheets around the trunk of the tree held down with rocks. The nuts stand out quite a bit on the sheets and you can just gather up the sheet and pour what nuts it collected into a bucket. I’ve also heard of people shooting the cones down from the tree with a small .22 rifle but I don’t have any personal experience with that.

Pine Nuts From Sugar Pine Trees

I’m sure that others know all about the joys of fresh pine nuts, but for those who haven’t discovered the amazing goodness that are large pine nuts harvested yourself.

In my area (far N. California

4000′ elevation) the Sugar Pines (Pinus lambertiana) are dropping their cones, which means pine nuts!

For those not familiar with them, Sugar Pines are very large (150′ tall plus) pine trees that produce cones over a foot long. If you can get a full cone before it drops it’s seeds you can get over an ounce of nuts from one cone but with the size of the trees it’s pretty hard to get to the cones while they’re still on the tree. I have used my bucket truck to get to some, but most the cones are out of reach of even that monstrosity. What I tend to do is just comb over the freshly fallen cones that are on the ground and I can usually get a few nuts out of each cone. Be ready to get pitchy, the cones are covered. Another method (that I’ll admit I’ve only bothered to use once) is to spread old sheets around the trunk of the tree held down with rocks. The nuts stand out quite a bit on the sheets and you can just gather up the sheet and pour what nuts it collected into a bucket. I’ve also heard of people shooting the cones down from the tree with a small .22 rifle but I don’t have any personal experience with that.

As far as the pine nuts themselves, they are delicious! Most nuts are bigger than a sunflower kernel, smaller than a peanut. 20 min or so of foraging beneath a decent sized tree will usually yield a handful of nuts which makes for a great trail-side snack when hiking the woods around here. Eating them reminds me of eating sunflower seeds: Crack the shell between your teeth then eat the kernel inside while throwing away the shells. The flavor of the raw nuts is very similar to almonds in my opinion.