The pinon pine grows where few trees can survive. This sturdy scrub conifer dominates the natural history of vast areas of our arid western states. Exceptionally large, nutritious pinon nuts are prized by pinyon jay, squirrel, and man. Native peoples use its pitch for waterproofing baskets, its pollen for ceremonial use, and its wood for building.
For all you would like to know about this remarkable tree, we can definitely recommend Ronald Lanner’s The Pinon Pine. Here is Lanner on yet another gift of the pinon: “Pinon firewood comes into its own on dark nights in midwinter, when warmth and cheer and a bit of excitement is needed. Nobody who has sat before a roaring, pitch-boiling, bubbling scented fire of pinon can think of it as the mere consumption of wood. It is the spirited release of centuries of brilliant sunlight absorbed under a cloudless southwestern sky…” The pinon pine has found its storyteller!
Ronald Lanner must have pine-pitch running through his veins. Here’s three more of his books on North America’s conifers:
The Bristlecone Book: A Natural History of the World’s Oldest Tree, Conifers of California, Made for Each Other: A Symbiosis of Birds and Pines.