All pine needles are edible, although you may find that you like the taste of some pine trees more than others. Just make sure the tree hasn't been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. While all pine trees have edible seeds, most are too small to be worth it. Around the world there are approximately 20 species with large edible pine nuts, and most of them grow in areas with a warm climate.
Pine can be a great escape for people lost in the woods who lack other foods. Edible and non-harmful pine species include white pine, black and red spruce, yellow and black birch, slippery elm and balsamic fir. Pine species, such as Ponderosa, Lodgepole, Jeffery, Western and Eastern White, and Sugar Pine, have been used for medicinal purposes for a long time. The inner bark is especially rich in vitamin C and, as the Nordic Food Lab points out, “pine phloem is rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which during the 19th century helped the Sami in the interior of Norway and Sweden to avoid scurvy, which at that time devastated coastal populations of non-Sami farmers.
In North America, people have been using pine trees as a source of food since the tribes of The Great Basin. With just three hands full of needles from each healthy, mature tree, and gathering half a pot of needles together, add enough water to fill the pot and let it simmer. There are many different species of conifers that are edible and medicinal, but consult a guide to make sure you are looking for the right tree, as there are some that are toxic, especially those in the yew family. Collecting pine pollen will take time, since it is necessary to shake pollen from many cones in a container to collect the required amount of pine pollen.
If you're a cow and eat a lot of kilos of Ponderosa pine needles, you have a 5 to 8 percent chance of having an abortion or stillbirth. The Nordic cookbook has a recipe for traditional pettuleipä, which is sourdough bread made with rye flour and inner pine bark. Here, in zone 4, edible nut pines are not a good choice for foraging, but there is one species of Korean walnut pine that is resistant to zone 4.No matter the bark, pine pollen, needles or pineapples, any part of the tree contains fiber and vitamin C. Most of these trees are very easy to find and identify (use a guide, such as these North American tree field guides for western and eastern regions) and are quite widespread.
In Kazakhstan, I had a sweet syrup for after dinner and as a cough treatment, which was made from very small, tender pineapples boiled in sugar syrup. Pines have long needles that are grouped together in different numbers depending on the species, which helps with identification. Usually these are fruits, but if they are not available, then a pine tree is perfect, especially if you know how to prepare it deliciously. It doesn't affect buffaloes, which regularly feed on these species, so I can tell it's just a problem with cows and a specific reaction to a specific species of pine (Ponderosa pine).
Pine tea is the reason that people in South Jersey are often referred to as “pine”, which is sometimes considered an insult, since those living in South Jersey are often considered “lower class, poorer in education, medical and dental care.”.