Some things you probably didn’t know about Pine Cones (at least we didn’t):
- Pine cones were a delicacy to dinosaurs.
The Parasaurolophus (more commonly known as duckbill dinosaurs because of the shape of their skulls) had specially formed jaws and thousands of rows of teeth that were adapted to eat tough, chewy pine cones, which was a favorite meal of theirs in the Cretaceous marshlands.
- Do you want to get pregnant? Well try placing a Pine Cone under your pillow.
It sounds a little strange, but the trick seemed to work for ancient Celtic women. They believed the Pine Cone was a symbol of fertility. Romans also associated the Pine Cone with Venus, the Goddess of love and fertility.
- The Pine Cone is the state flower of Maine, making it the only state flower that’s not actually a flower.
For most of us, when thinking about flowers, a pine cone might be the last thing to come to mind. Technically they are gymnosperm or seeds, not flowers. But to each their own, right?
- You might’ve known this one, but the pineapple got it’s name from resembling the pine cone so much.
In the 1600’s Old English, the word “apple” was used to create terms for several fruits and flora including “earth apple” for potato, “love apple” for tomato, and “oak apple” for the round nut on oak leaves. “Pine apple” was another one and the only one that we still use today.
- Pine cones are the reproductive part of the pine tree and there are MALE and FEMALE cones.
The male cones are smaller, softer and less impressive than the females. A lot of the time, they don’t even get noticed. Sorry guys. BUT! They are a crucial part of the repopulation process. The male cones release pollen, which floats into the air and is carried by the wind until it finds the female cones which are soft, green and sticky at the time. After the female is fertilized, it grows into the brown woody cone that we’re used to seeing. Conifer seeds grow under the hard scales and when they are matured (couple years later), the female pine cone opens up and lets the wind spread the seeds. The female then falls to the ground. So what we’re picking up off the forest floor is actually a female cone that has completed its reproductive process.
- Scandinavia has Cone Cows.
Kids in Finland and Sweden make these traditional toys they call Cone Cows. They use sticks for legs and stick them into the scales. A park in Finland has giant Cone Cow sculptures that are big enough for the kids to ride on! Sweden has even featured Cone Cows on their postage stamps.
- The smallest Pine Cone is about 1 inch in size and comes from the Canadian Hemlock. The longest Pine Cone comes from the Sugar Pine, growing up to 2 feet long. Then there’s the big kahuna. The Coulter Pine Cone can grow anywhere from 8 to 16 inches long and weigh up to 10 pounds!!
- There are about 20 different types of pine nuts that are edible for humans. They are the soft, white seeds found inside Pine Cones. Pine nuts are usually toasted to improve their flavor and make them crunchy. Careful though! If you eat the nuts from a Chinese white pine, it can cause “pine mouth syndrome”. You’ll have a bitter, metallic taste in your mouth and there is no cure. You just have to wait several days for the taste to go away on its own.