Pine bark tea, along with pine needle tea, has been used as a vitamin C supplement to prevent scurvy. It is also high in antioxidants like the pine needles. I would say it is a great alternative to needle tea if your pine needles are out of reach. I personally only have a small section of Pine trees that have low enough branches for me to reach, but the bark is readily available from the ground up.
When using bark to make tea, you want to make more of a decoction, rather than an infusion to draw out the good stuff. The difference between the two is that an infusion is made with soft plant matter, like flowers and leaves, steeped in very hot water for 10-15 minutes. Decoctions are made with hard plant matter, like bark, twigs, roots, and berries, and are simmered for 15-20 minutes, rather than just steeping in boiled water. If it turns out too strong tasting, just add more water.
Pine Bark Extract can be bought commercially and is used for many things, including encouraging healthy blood pressure, improving kidney health, reducing inflammation, allergies, blood circulation, asthma, and much more. You can go here to learn more about the extract. I am more focused on things I can easily make or do myself, rather than buying, but that in no way means that it cannot be beneficial.
The hard outer bark is not edible. It is the soft white under bark you want. Cedar, Larch, Balsam Poplar, Trembling Aspen, Alder and Maple bark can all be consumed. You can find a list that are NOT edible here.
Pines are a Godsend in survival situations. No matter what part you consume, pines are great sources of Vitamin C and fiber. Pine needle or bark tea has historically been used to prevent scurvy, which causes fatigue, weakness, soreness of limbs, bleeding through the skin, personality changes, and even death.
Native Americans could spend weeks in the wild tracking animals without carrying extra food by relying on pine trees for sustenance when other foraged plants could not be found. How cool is that?
When collecting pine bark, choose the bigger trees for harvesting. Pines can live 100-200 years! The bigger, older trees are more resilient to damage. Stripping bark from saplings and young trees could end up killing the tree. NEVER remove bark from all the way around a tree, or you WILL kill it. Only take thin vertical strips from multiple trees.
White pine, which has 5 needles in a cluster, is considered the best tasting by most sources. I have never personally tried it though. I am relegated to Yellow Pine where I live, which has 3 needle clusters. Red Pine has 2 needle clusters.
-You will need a sharp knife to pry bits of bark off. Sharp rocks also work, if you don’t have a knife, which is sacrilege in my opinion, but I know things happens, and stuff sometimes gets lost if you are indeed in a survival situation.
-Cut small strips out of the bark. If you take too big of chunks the tree can succumb to disease and die. Pines make pitch to protect themselves, but like with humans, larger wounds take longer to heal and are more susceptible to problems in the process. Disperse your harvesting to prevent long lasting damage.
Eating Pine Bark:
-Eating raw pine bark may cause stomach cramps, because it is so fibrous, but it will work in a pinch to satiate hunger in the wild.
-It is said that the least palatable way to prepare tree bark is by boiling it, but it cuts down on the stomach problems you could end up with when eating raw bark. You can then also use the leftover water to make tea with. I would suggest adding some needles to it, but the water left behind is perfectly fine as well as it is.
-The most palatable form of preparation is frying in oil, animal fat, or butter, and adding salt to taste, if you have it available. This way is more for camping, because you probably won’t have butter or salt if you are lost in the woods. You could harvest animal fat though, so don’t count this process out.
Thin strips of Pine bark can be laid out and dried, and then crushed with a mortar and pestle or between rocks to make flour as well! It can be used by itself or added to your regular store bought flour to prolong rations. Cedar, beech, birch, willow, and alder can also be used to make flour.
Willow bark has long been used as a natural pain killer/anti-inflammatory, so not only will it keep you from starving to death, it can also soothe those aches and pains you may have out in the wilderness.
Eating pine trees is not something you probably want to do on a regular basis, but while camping or lost in the woods it can be great, evening life saving.
Check out this article for even more information! I love cross referencing sites. You would be surprised at what you could learn.
I quite enjoy Ask A Prepper as well, and they have an article on tree bark uses in general for survival that you can check out here.
I hope you found today’s post enlightening, and that it sparks a flame in you to learn more about the world around you.
This post is part of a series on Pine Trees. The other posts can be found below:
Pine Needle Tea & Medicine
Pining For You
Pine Tar Salve DIY
Pine Pitch Candles
Pine Needle Oxymel
Infused Cleaning Vinegar
Identifying Pine Trees
Collecting Pine Pitch