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Tenerife herbs: Canary Pine tree

Updated on November 17, 2012

Canary Pine has medicinal properties

The Canary Pine tree (Pinus canariensis) is one of the Canary Island native trees that has medicinal properties and so it is often listed in books on herbs of the islands. Besides its uses in folk medicine, the tree is also used for its wood, and it forms large forests in many mountainous areas of Tenerife and some of the other Canary Islands. It also grows on Gran Canaria, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma but not on Lanzarote or Fuerteventura.

The Canary Pine is able to grow in rocky and volcanic ground and is often one of the first plants to colonise these areas.

Canary pine photo

Canary Pine. Photo by Steve Andrews
Canary Pine. Photo by Steve Andrews

Canary Pine description

The Canary Pine can reach a very large size growing to as much as 30 metres in height and can have a trunk one metre or more in diameter. The trees are often seen a lot smaller than this though but they cover large areas of mountainside.

The Canary Pine has male and female flowers and the tree bears pine cones that contain its seeds or pine nuts. 

Canary Pine trees have reddish trunks and often the bark becomes cracked in appearance. One remarkable property this tree has is that if it is a victim of a forest fire it is able to regenerate afterwards although most of its needles and branches have been burned. In 2008 there were terrible fires in Tenerife that looked as if they had destroyed the forests of the island but the pines have all sprouted new growth and it is hard to think that that a few years back they looked all charred and dead.

The Canary Pine has long needles like other pine trees and these grow to some 30cm in length. These needles have been used as bedding for livestock and as packing material for the export of bananas, an important crop on the islands.

Canary Pine cone

Canary Pine cone. Photo by Steve Andrews
Canary Pine cone. Photo by Steve Andrews

Canary Pine uses and medicinal properties

The Canary Pine's resin has been used to help remove cysts, whilst the resinous buds of the tree are employed in the form of infusions or as inhalants to treat respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma.

Pine needle oil distilled from the needles and twigs can be added to hot water and the steam inhaled for these conditions too, whilst a weak decoction of the needles can be taken internally to combat urinary tract disorders and as a diuretic and vermifuge. Canary Pine oil diluted with olive oil is also recommended as a treatment for rheumatic pain.

The wood of the Canary Pine has been a very important wood used in carpentry and furniture making in the islands.

Canary Pine nuts were once on the menu for the Guanche people who lived in the Canary Islands before the Spanish Conquest.

Over the many years the Canary Pine has been one of the most useful trees found growing in the Canary Islands as well as adding to the great beauty of the landscapes of the islands.

Copyright © 2011 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.


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