Where Do Pine Nuts Come From? Amazing Food Facts About Pine Seeds

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 29, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
Pine nut kernels in wooden box on table.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

The two species of pine nut that are widely harvested in Asia are the western Himalayan chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana) and northeast Asia's Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis).

Different species of pine trees that produce pine nuts grow across the world, so there are varying kinds of pine nuts. Some of them, such as cashews, almonds, peanuts, or walnuts, might be your favorite too!

Pine nuts are also commonly called pignoli, pinoli (Italian), and pinon (Spanish). These nuts are edible pine seeds of pinyon pine trees within the genus Pinus of the Pinaceae family. The Food and Agriculture Organization states that out of the 29 edible pine nuts species, only 20 species are traded internationally or locally. The reason behind this is the size of these 20 species; the seeds are worth harvesting and are delicious, while the rest of the edible seeds are so small that it is not worth harvesting them. Pine nuts are not new to humankind, even though we rarely include them in our diet. Humans have been harvesting pine nuts for centuries and you can easily grow and harvest pine nuts in your backyard.

The largest producer of Siberian pine nuts in the world is Russia. Europe and Asia have been eating pine nuts since the Paleolithic Age, adding them into salads, fish, meat, baked into bread, or mixed in vegetable dishes. The Hispanic and Native American communities in the United States primarily harvest pine nuts. In Europe, most of the pine nuts come from stone pine trees, and stone pine trees have been grown and harvested for more than 5,000 years. The main pine species in North America are Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides), single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla), and Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis). There are several health benefits of these pine nuts. Their nutrition enhances heart health and reduces cholesterol although walnuts are healthier than pine nuts.

If you enjoyed reading these facts that give answers to where do pine nuts come from, then make sure to read some more interesting facts that answer the questions where does chocolate come from and where do peanuts come from here on Kidadl.

Where do pine nuts come from in Australia?

Pine nuts in Australia come from Asia and the Mediterranean.

Pine trees and their seeds grow slowly, taking 15-25 years to produce seeds and few more years for the trees to reach peak production of seeds. It takes around 18 months for pine cones to produce pine nuts. Pine nuts have a hard shell around them when extracted from the pine cones. The center embryo is rich in nutrition. Pine nuts grow well in temperate rainforests. A large number of pine nuts in Australia are imported from the Mediterranean and Asia. Large, delicious nuts produced for human consumption are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Korean pine or Chinese pinenut are used for construction, nut oil for soap and lubricants, as well as many more products. Himalayan pine nuts, chilgoza pine, have a high price, which is a source of income to the tribal Pangi Valley and tribals in the Kinnaur tribal district in Himachal Pradesh, India. There are also a few places in Australia where pine nuts are grown. Stone pines are also imported to Australia, and although expensive, they are of the best quality and can tolerate diseases and pests.

Peeled pine nuts on gray background.

Can you get pine nuts from any pine tree?

Pine nuts can be extracted from any pinyon tree and only a few have small-sized nuts.

All pine trees produce pine nuts but not all of them are harvested. Only around 18 species of pine nuts are worth harvesting when they are mature as they have a larger size and better taste than others. These trees are found in North America, Asia, and several European countries. All nuts are safe to eat but some are very small. The preferred species of pine nut species in North America is the Colorado pinyon. The quality also differs among these nut species. The best pine nuts are from Asia and taste buttery and sweet, but they are expensive. They can be eaten raw. The inner bark between the layer of softwood and the outer bark of a pine tree is also edible. Needles of a pine tree can also be eaten as they are rich in vitamin C. Young male cones of the pine tree produce edible nuts. It takes two years for true pine cones to mature. The shells of pine nuts are non-toxic and can improve physical endurance. Usually, one pine cone produces two nuts per scale, but it does depend on the size of pine cones.

What does a pine nut tree look like?

Easy identification of pine trees is by the number and color of the needles. Native to the Northern Hemisphere, pine trees are an evergreen and coniferous plant and are classified within the Pinus genus of the Pinaceae family.

The estimated number of pine tree species in the world is 126 species and pinewoods are considered to be essential products. Pine trees can be identified by the gray to reddish-brown bark, cones with seeds, and needle-like leaves. The egg-shaped cones hang down from the tree branches. The cones fall after opening to release pollen or seeds. Needles of pine trees grow in bundles consisting of three to five needles that are called fascicles. The tallest species of pine trees in the world are sugar pine trees. These pine trees can be differentiated by the number of needles and the color of these needles. Pitch pine trees have twisted branches and irregular shapes.

Types Of Pine Trees

All varieties of pine tree seeds are available in Korea, Denmark, Switzerland, Mongolia, Russia, China, and Siberia. Some of these species include:

  • Korean pine - These start producing nuts around an average age of seven to eight years. They will grow in almost all types of soil.
  • Swiss pine - These trees have an ornamental appearance with blue needles and the supply is limited.
  • The Russian cedar - This tree has a thin-shelled nut. You can crack the shell with your fingers. This tree is identical to a Korean pine tree but narrower.
  • Pinyon pine - These trees are drought tolerant and are blue-colored.
  • Swiss stone pine - This tree is a hardy tree, which produces commercially useful nuts. They can grow on both sandy loam and heavy clay soil.

 

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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