Harvesting Pine Pollen– How & Why

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We spent Saturday afternoon harvesting pine pollen. I know, you’re probably wondering why we would do that! The idea had never crossed my mind, until a recent email conversation with a reader in Oregon. We were talking about wild foods, and she said that she and her husband were going to be harvesting pine pollen. I started looking it up, and was quickly convinced that we should do it, too!Harvesting Pine Pollen How & Why

Why you might want to try harvesting pine pollen:

I learned a ton of fascinating information in the last couple weeks about pine trees and pine pollen! Not only are most parts of the tree edible, but pine trees offer us so much in terms of nutrition and medicinal benefits. Pine pollen has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, as both food and medicine.

Here are the nutritional properties of pine pollen:

  • Contains 18 amino acids
  • Has numerous vitamins, including A, B1, B2, B6, B3, B9, Vitamins C, D (rare for plants!) E and Beta Carotene
  • Is full of minerals
  • Contains many powerful anti-oxidants
  • Has beneficial enzymes and other beneficial compounds

Some uses in Chinese medicine include:

  • Relieving rheumatic pain
  • Relieving fatigue
  • Increasing endurance
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Improving the skin
  • Strengthening the heart
  • Strengthening the GI tract and stomach
  • Increasing mental agility
  • Healing prostate problems
  • Increasing agility
  • Decreasing weight

Now pine pollen is becoming super-popular with herbalists, nutritionists and wild-food enthusiasts. Daniel Vitalis especially promotes the benefits of pine pollen, and has recorded a podcast about it. I found so many totally-jazzed hippie-types making videos about gathering it. And it was kind of hilarious and also just fascinating and educational!

From the Surthrival site, I found these benefits of taking pine pollen, both for men and women:

  • Restore hormone levels in Andropause and Menopause
  • Regulate and strengthen the immune system
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Relieve rheumatic pain
  • Enhance metabolic function of the skin and nourish the hair at its roots
  • Adjust the endocrine system and raise immunity power of the organs
  • Improve endurance for high efficiency and quick pace
  • Protect the cardiovascular system and increase superoxide dismutase levels (potent antioxidant) in the heart, blood, liver, and brain
  • Improve metabolism and regulate weight
  • Accelerate activity of the liver cells and regulate bile secretion
  • Regulate prostate function
  • Common cold preventative
  • Restore androgen and estrogen balance
  • Improve metabolism and regulate weight (safe and toxic-free fat-lowering supplement)
  • Nourish the brain
  • Stimulate liver regeneration
  • Increase free testosterone levels in the blood
  • Dramatically improves your vitality and stamina

So interesting, right? I have a history of adrenal exhaustion, so my ears always perk up when I hear about things that support adrenals and help to normalize hormones. I was totally sold on collecting some! (Especially after I saw how much it costs to buy it.)

Harvesting Pine Pollen

The weekend before last, we went and checked the local pine trees on our foraging walk. The male catkins that hold the pollen were still very firm, and there was no powder. However, I broke some off and ate them. People. I have to tell you, you must try them! They are crisp, juicy and taste like a Christmas tree in the best possible way! They have a slight sweetness and the feel of under-ripe apples. Seriously, they are tasty! Just peel off the papery bits and enjoy.IMG_9460We picked a bunch and brought them home. I finished peeling off the papery parts, then put them in raw, local honey. This is a great way to preserve the pollen, by the way. They have given the honey a great flavor, and are slowly releasing their yellow pollen into the honey.

I knew that the pollen was about to be released from the pine trees in our area, because some of the lowest catkins were slightly powdery. So on Saturday (a week later) we went to collect. And we were right on time! Those little green buds had swelled and become soft, releasing puffs of pollen with every breeze. (I forgot my camera, and just have pictures from my phone of the pine pollen harvesting.)photo 3We brought several zip-lock bags, and slid them over the catkins as we popped them off of the branches into the bags– there was a lot of pollen released as we did this. We found so many low-hanging pine branches covered with these catkins, so there was plenty. We got pollen all over us, and gathered about 2 1/2 full bags.Harvesting Pine PollenI do not recommend doing this if you have pine pollen allergies, obviously.photo 4Gathering this amount took about 1 1/2 hours for Jeff and me. (Amelia mostly spent that time gorging on miner’s lettuce she found underneath the pines.)  Some people bring a big paper bag, stick a branch in there and shake really vigorously. But this is more efficient. It’s pretty much impossible to over-harvest, as the trees are usually way too tall for you to even reach the majority of the branches.

After a break for snacks and lying in the grass to soak up some sun, we headed home with our harvest.
Processing Pine Pollen After HarvestIMG_9521The first thing I did was to empty the bags into a very large bowl and start picking out twigs, bugs and pine needles. Amelia ran a “bug rescue” operation, carting them out carefully into the garden on leaves.IMG_9520I saved the pine needles, which had a fair amount of pollen on them, for making tea. I boiled a big pot of water, and added them to it to steep overnight. (The next day, I decided to try a pine needle soda, sweetening with some of the pine pollen honey and using leftover blackberry soda as a starter culture. I’ll keep you posted on the results!) [Update: the pine soda definitely “worked” but the flavor was pretty antiseptic. We let it ferment longer to “dry out” and be more like a non-alcoholic beer. We drank it, but it wasn’t that great. But I see potential for brewing beer with pine in the future!]IMG_9525Next, I pulled out the green, juicy young catkins to add to my jar of honey from the previous week. We ended up also adding more honey.IMG_9531 I left the rest of the catkins in the metal bowl in a warm spot, covered loosely with a kitchen towel, to dry out a bit overnight. Yesterday, I started sifting. I haven’t gotten through all of them yet, but did sift out 9 grams, which was 1/8 of a cup. I have a whole lot more to do this afternoon or maybe tomorrow, and will update with the final amounts. I decided to wait a little while for more of the catkins to dry out and release their pollen.IMG_9534To gather the pollen from the catkins, you’ll need to sift a few times, ending with a bit of cheesecloth over your strainer. This is pretty effective in only letting the very fine pollen particles through.

Pine Pollen Tincture
With the 9 grams I strained out yesterday, I made a tincture by adding 2 parts high-quality (non-gmo) vodka to 1 part pollen. I am keeping it in a glass jar in my cupboard, agitating occasionally, for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, I’ll strain it through the cheesecloth again into a glass dropper bottle for a very strong tincture. For more information about using a pine pollen tincture, I would recommend looking at the information at the Surthrival shop. I am not a doctor or an herbalist, so I cannot give any advice on taking the supplement, but I would definitely encourage you to do a bit of your own research!

Storing Pine Pollen
Another good way to store the pollen is in a glass jar in the freezer. From what I gather, pine pollen is pretty safe in any amount as a whole food, for men, women and children. People like sprinkling it on their food or adding it to smoothies, etc. It becomes much more powerful in tincture form, and will need to be treated more intentionally that way. I plan to keep mine in honey and make tinctures, and will experiment with some other food usages.

I wanted to get this post up right away, as NOW is the time in many places to go out and start gathering pine pollen. The season is from now to early June, so get out there and check your pine trees! If you need some help identifying the conifers in your area, this video might be helpful.

Have you ever eaten any part of a pine tree? Do you think you’ll try harvesting pine pollen? I think it’s a fun and interesting thing to do!

Sources: https://www.surthrival.com/supplements/pine-pollen-gold.html?acc=e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5, https://supermanherbs.com/pine-pollen/

Harvesting Pine Pollen How and Why  And Here We Are...

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48 Responses to Harvesting Pine Pollen– How & Why

  1. Naomi May 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    How neat! I gathered some spruce tips this spring (and am still planning on getting a post up about it) but haven’t heard of pine pollen before. On our next walk I’ll keep my eyes open for pine pollen now!

    • ariana May 6, 2014 at 9:08 am #

      I hope you find some, at the right time Naomi! What will you do with your spruce tips? We’ve been thinking about a Spruce Tip Beer…

      • Emily Fawcett May 5, 2019 at 2:17 pm #

        Do you know of any cultures who have used spruce pollen?

  2. GrassFood May 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    As always, Ariana, totally brilliant! I have never heard of this and am so glad to find out before our pine trees bud out! Thank you. 🙂 Jamie

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:10 am #

      Great! I hope you can gather some when the time is right, Jamie!

  3. Hilda May 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    Thanks for the timely post. Can’t wait to try it out.

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Great– I hope you can get some!

  4. Cathy May 6, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Sounds lovely; I’ll have to try gathering some!
    As for the pine soda, I’m guessing it won’t fizz? Seems like the anti microbial properties of the honey would kill the good microbes in the culture.
    Found your blog on a link from Punk Domestics, now I’m looking forward to seeing the rest!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      Hi Cathy! Actually, I have successfully made sodas with honey quite a few times. People often don’t think it will work, because it won’t work with kombucha– but it’s just fine with lacto-fermented sodas. The soda definitely fermented quickly, but the taste turned out to be rather antiseptic. We let ours dry out quite a bit, and drank it more like a non-alcoholic beer. It was OK, not great.

  5. Raia Torn May 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    Soo, I’m guessing if you’re allergic to pine you shouldn’t do this? Cause I’d be all for it if I could breathe when our pines are pollinating, but I can’t. :/

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Raia, you’ll want to skip this wild food– it’s not for people with pine pollen allergies.

    • Elizabeth August 15, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

      Guess i better not try this after all….dang allergies!!!?

  6. Todd F Wright May 18, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    Ariana – Thanks for writing this! We love finding, eating, and preserving wild foods. We were just reading through this, and I immediately ran outside to the Scotch Pines and plucked a few catkins. We tasted them, even though it’s a week or two early. I never even thought about eating them, but we can see how they will taste pretty good.

    Anyhow, do you ever put spruce (or pine) leaves in your drinking water? I have done this for years, and it really does taste great. My favorites are red spruce and jack pine. Give it a try. I just put them in bottles of water in the fridge and let them soak in it.

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Hi Todd! So happy to hear that you read this in time to enjoy some juicy catkins– and I’m sure you’ll be able to harvest some, too!

      I like eating spruce tips– they are so citrus-y! We haven’t added them to our drinking water, but that’s a great idea we’ll have to try. Thanks!

  7. guestimate June 12, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    I harvested pine pollen this year, a local Goodwill store and city park had a dozen or so smaller trees so the catkins were low and eminently pickable! At first I was frustrated because the ripe buds shed 90% of their pollen to the air before I could get the bag over the branches, and the bag kept snagging! Then I got the idea to just pick the bud clusters that hadn’t opened yet; I filled a garbage bag about 3/4 full and brought them home, lining the bottoms of two big plastic trays that I set upstairs in my warm attic. In a few days, most had opened and dropped their pollen into the trays. I carefully scooped the clusters by hand (to prevent too much pollen from becoming airborne) into a screen bag, already placed in a garbage bag, and just shook and massaged the inner screen bag. That caused most of the pollen still in the buds to fall through the screen bag into the garbage bag. Then I emptied the dregs and refilled the screen bag like before. I’ve done this to the entire batch, twice, and collected over a kg of pine pollen! And the dregs still have some unopened buds that need to be rubbed through the fingers as they dry out, to obtain what pollen still remains. If you want to buy pine pollen it’s expensive! Sellers in China charge upward of $100/kg or more! I found a few whose price + shipping were under $70. but free is still better! Pine trees are so common and often wild, a really valuable and unexploited resource.

    I recall reading a story about a chinese maiden who escaped to a pine forest when raiders attacked her village. Living in the wild she was cold, wet and miserable. An Immortal appeared in answer to her prayers and showed her the bounty of the forest she was living in. She began eating the pollen and pine nuts and grew very strong, her body developed a coat of soft fur and she could run so fast, no one could catch her.

  8. Lori Powell June 27, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    It’s almost july here in denver do you think it would be to late, we have had some very wicked wind here?

    • guestimate June 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      You have to go out and physically look at the buds. If they’re just starting to open, yes their pollen will blow away, but you can harvest the unopened ones and let them dry in a warm enclosure.

  9. Everhardt October 8, 2014 at 6:01 am #

    Hi there, I live in Australia, do you know the species name of the type of tree (Pine) that is preferred for pollen harvesting? Thanks Ev

    • ariana October 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi Ev, the best type to harvest is White Pine. But all pine is beneficial. Happy harvesting!

  10. Zailynne December 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Wow, never thought of doing this, though I have had pine needle juice before and chew on pine needles all the time… I should try it!

  11. Deborah June 21, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    Thanks for this! Do you know which kinds of pine trees produce the most pollen?

    • ariana June 25, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Not sure on that one, but White Pine is supposed to be one of the most beneficial varieties.

  12. Topper March 15, 2016 at 4:19 am #

    This will be my first year to harvest pine pollen for feeding my honeybees late winter and early spring.

  13. Christine Love March 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    I haven’t read all the comments, but it seems like ingesting the pine pollen would actually help those who have allergies to it. Homeopathic: like cures like.

    • KIM M THIEBAULT May 15, 2018 at 7:34 am #

      I have had pine allergies in the past this does not bother me

  14. Soo Gee March 30, 2016 at 5:52 am #

    I’ve made pine needle tea many times, but I’ve never heard of using pollen before. However, the pictures on your post are of fir trees – not pines. From the picture of the mature trees, I’d guess they might be Douglas Firs. I was recently in Washington (state) visiting my parents, and I couldn’t find a single pine tree to use for tea. All the evergreens I saw were firs. Where I live now, all the evergreens are pines, except for isolated firs that people have planted in their yards from garden centers. I’ll see if I can find some pollen from one or the other, though, and try making a honey infusion with it.

  15. Deb April 22, 2016 at 1:15 am #

    We have always collected new pine tips for tea- never thought to collect the pollen. Looks like I have a night of reading and a project for the family and I

  16. Alice May 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    I gathered some catkins They are rather small Not really much pollen on them I was wondering if I can get any benefits if I infuse in oil or is there something else that can be done I stay away from sweet stuff because of my diabetes Really appreciate any feedback Have a wonderful day

  17. S.k.joshi May 8, 2016 at 8:35 am #


    • Loretta Workman April 23, 2019 at 1:56 am #

      Dear Sir, the trees that they speak of will only grow in a certain environment. I live at 2000 feet of elevation on the side of a mountain to be able to have such trees around me.
      I don’t think that your country would allow importation of the tree seeds, but I can check.

  18. Jen May 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    Can you do this with Spruce as well? I have a Norway Spruce with a ton it on them.

  19. Lisa morehead October 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    Many blessings . I love Spain. I went with a school trip there. I enjoyed reading your articles. We have loblolly pine here in Mississippi . I never had a thought about pollen until recently when i looked up pine needle tea. Surrounded by pine trees , I knew pollen more as a menace than a treat. I will try some.

  20. Jamy February 16, 2017 at 1:12 am #

    Is there a particular type of pine tree use? I live in Florida. We have Loblolly Pine, Longleaf Pine, Pond Pine , Sand Pine and Slash Pine. I’ll look into it as well, just wondering what kind of pine you are havesting.

  21. CuriousM March 9, 2017 at 2:08 am #

    Hi: I read in order for your body to absord the nutrients, it needs to crack the cell wall. How do you crack cell wall pine pollen at home?

  22. Kenneth Radcliff March 28, 2017 at 4:47 am #

    I recovering from a lower back wound and I’m Rehabilitating MY legs to walk again. This information is SO beneficial to MY recovery and process it’s really appreciated. MY name is Caleb Mustafa and if you have any more vital information about pine pollen can you please keep Me updated BY email. Thanks!

  23. Elizabeth August 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    Im all about natural but have severe pine pollen allergies. Just wondering if i wld b able to take the tincture for arthritis. Im in so much pain all the time, im desperately trying to find something natural to help. i dont want to go down the opioid path ever!! i am taking raw bee pollen granules for a week now so waiting to see how this works…any info wld b very much appreciated….love, light and blessings to your family

  24. Johnson May 13, 2018 at 8:54 am #

    Hi I read yours articles it’s very informative and useful for loads of things, thanks for all these wonderful posts and I have a small question. How to make the pine powder can you please suggest some notes or procedures because I don’t like vodka or any kind of alcohol so I would like to make pine pollen powder so how to make it please, thanks.

    • ariana May 13, 2018 at 9:00 am #

      One option would be to mix it with honey. You can also do some research on making a glycerine tincture– that’s something I don’t have experience, but many herbalists do it that way. Good luck!

  25. kyle May 26, 2018 at 10:48 pm #

    what happens if there’s larvae on the pine buds which end up being sifted out. should eggs be something to worry about.

    • ariana May 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm #

      Hi Kyle,
      It’s really not something I would be concerned about, personally.

  26. Whitlyn January 3, 2019 at 8:50 pm #

    I am in the Bahamas any pine tree

  27. Abdel Habib January 29, 2019 at 12:50 am #

    Amazing! Just want to add one thing, most of the benefits are due the fact that pine pollen is maybe the only vegetal source of testosterone.

  28. Heather February 4, 2019 at 2:41 am #

    Hello! I have not had pine pollen but am truly intrigued! The first time I had cedar tea, I had the same experience: it was like Christmas in a mug! I live inner-city so harvesting here would not be ideal but I shall keep this in mind the next time I’m on a mountain walk at pollen time!

  29. Lorna May 15, 2019 at 6:36 pm #

    Will ponderosa pine work for this too?

  30. megnetica May 17, 2019 at 7:28 pm #

    careful with pine needles, they are not safe for pregnant women


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