Characteristics of stone pines and how to plant pinyons

Today we are going to talk to you about a type of crop that is not a crop itself. It’s about the pine nuts . The pine nuts are not cultivated, but are collected from the pine forests. They are a forest product rather than an agricultural product, since they do not require tillage, soil preparation, or as much care as agricultural crops.

Next we are going to show you the main characteristics of stone pines, pine nuts, their needs and how to get them. Do you want to know more about pine nuts?


  • 1 Stone Pine (Pinus Pinea)
  • 2 The value of pines and piñones
  • 3 Needs of stone pines
    • 3.1 Climate
    • 3.2 Soil
    • 3.3 Food needs
  • 4 Aspects to take into account for pine nuts
  • 5 How to plant pine nuts
  • 6 Harvesting pine nuts

Stone Pine (Pinus Pinea)

stone pine is very resistant

The tree from which the pine nuts come out is the stone pine. It is a tree exclusively from the Mediterranean and Spanish that does not have a specific origin. Its scientific name is Pinus pinea L. and it is found practically throughout the Mediterranean coast up to China. Its origin, although it is not well known, is Mediterranean and, despite its wide distribution area, Spain is the country with the most stone pines in the world. In addition, we are the first producers of pine nuts in the world, highlighting areas such as Andalusia or Castilla y León.

The value of pines and piñones

fruit of the pinus pinea

When talking about the value of crops, normally, reference is made to their fruit. That is, the tomato plant, without the tomato itself, has no great value or importance. However, in the case of stone pine, its economic value is innumerable. Since the past, Pinus pinea L.  has been a good food and timber resource for use in construction such as boat construction.

Pine nuts are in great demand in the world of cooking, since they are part of many desserts and typical dishes from European places. In addition, they have been part of the human diet for millennia. Today, the reason why more stone pines are in demand is for food, but in the past, other uses such as wood, resin or bark have been very important. For the world of renewable energies, it should be known that the shells of the pinion are being used to generate biofuels.

Apart from the economic resources to which the stone pine can be destined, we also have the high ornamental value that it has. There are many places that have these pines as an ornamental resource in the streets of cities, forming part of the tree mass.

Needs of stone pines

These trees, although they do not require as much care and maintenance as agricultural crops, they also need some characteristics of the climate and the soil.


pinus pinea has a wide distribution area in many climates

It is a tree that does not require much water, so it can withstand high temperatures well, not above 40°C, and droughts. It is also able to withstand low temperatures well, surviving at -20°C, although from -10°C it begins to suffer tissue and leaf damage.

Thanks to this ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions, stone pines have spread over wide regions with very different climates (both continental and coastal) and at altitudes between 0 and 1,200 meters above sea level.

I usually

stone pine withstands poor soils

As for the soil, this pine prefers acid and sandy soils. Although it is also capable of tolerating more limestone and clay soils, since it is used to surviving in almost any environment.

As we have mentioned before, thanks to the ability to adapt to any environment and any soil, we can find stone pines in many landscapes.

food needs

Regarding the nutrition of the pines, we can say that they do not need a large amount of organic matter to grow faster or give more pine nuts. This makes the stone pine an ideal tree to repopulate poor soils, due to its low food demand. The only thing that does not tolerate well are soils that easily become waterlogged.

Aspects to take into account for pine nuts

stone pine cone

If you want to get your own pine nuts, there are a few things to consider first:

  • The production of pine nuts from a Pinus Pinea L. is one of the latest , that is, if you plant a stone pine from scratch, it will take between 20 and 30 years to produce the pine nuts.
  • Flowering occurs in late spring and early summer. The piñon will be mature after 3 years after flowering.
  • Pine nuts are very rich in oils, the main ones being mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid.
  • It is also known for its high protein value.

How to plant pine nuts

pine growing planting pine nuts in a pot

In order to plant the pine nuts, we need some materials beforehand:

  • The main thing is a pot about 15 cm deep and about 10 cm in diameter. In this way, as the pine nuts begin to germinate, they can be in the pot for a while.
  • A substrate composed of organic matter and mixed with perlite.
  • If it is spring we have to take into account that, to use a fungicide, thus avoiding the risk of diseases, it has to be copper or sulfur and if it is summer, we will use a synthetic spray.
  • Water to irrigate.

Once we have everything ready, it will be time to follow this step by step:

  1. The first thing to do is buy the pine nuts in spring or summer.
  2. Then, they are placed in water for 24 hours.
  3. The pots are then filled with the substrate.
  4. Afterwards, a pinion or two at most are placed on each one.
  5. Finally, they are covered with a thin layer of substrate and watered.

When they are sown, they are placed in an area where they get direct sunlight, and the substrate is kept moist. In a matter of fifteen days we will see the first germinate.

pine nut harvest

pine nuts pinus pinea

Pineapple harvesting starts in December. A delay in collection can result in the loss of seeds due to natural dissemination or pineapple theft

Harvesting is done manually on unopened ripe pineapples. For this it is necessary to climb the trees using climbing techniques. Once the pineapples have been harvested  , they must be spread out in the sun or in artificial dryers. These are opened by heat and low ambient humidity and then, turning them over and hitting them, the pinion is extracted.

It is important to do this process carefully because any damage to the pine nut shells affects the viability and longevity of the seeds. With the appropriate sieves and with a winnowing, the wings and the vain sprockets are separated from the full sprockets. The pine nuts must then be dried  to a moisture content of between 6 and 8% and stored at a temperature of 4-5 °C in an airtight container.

With this information you can now plant your own pine nuts, although to have them as fruit, you will have to wait about 20 years

Characteristics of stone pines and how to plant pinyons

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