Scots Pine

Aside from being beautiful trees used during Christmastime, pine trees also offer medicinal qualities. Scots pine in particular has several traditional uses.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Scots Pine
  • Scientific namePinus sylvestris
  • Plant typeTree
  • Native regionAmericas, North America, Western Europe, Eastern or Central Europe
  • Main producer(s)China
  • Main Economic UseTimber industry
Scots pine

The Scots pine formed large parts of forests in northern England and Scotland until around 8,000 years ago. Scots pines form the foundation of the native pinewoods of Scotland, and are vital for wildlife conservation. Only a small portion of the original forests still exist, after much of them were burned for fuel from the Roman conquest onwards. In additional to herbal remedies, Scots pine was traditionally used to make ships, tar, charcoal, and turpentine.

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAntifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant
  • Key constituentsTannins, proanthocyanins, disulfide proteins
  • Ways to useCapsules
  • Medicinal rating(3) Reasonably useful plant
  • Safety rankingSafe

Health Benefits of Scots Pine

Scots pine has several traditional uses. Preliminary research into Scots pine's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties have hinted and several potential but unverified medicinal uses:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Treating certain fungal infections
  • Attenuating free radical damage
  • Reducing blood clotting

How It Works

The bark of Scots pine contains at least 28 phenolic compounds, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These phenols have been shown to inhibit the production of two inflammatory compounds, nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2. The disulfide-rich proteins in Scots pine sap have been shown to bind to glucans, which make up the cell walls of fungi. This may be effective in eliminating some types of fungi.


How to Consume Scots Pine

Main preparations: Capsules, essential oil

Anyone looking to incorporate the benefits of Scots pine into their lives can do so by buying it either in essential oil form - for topical use - or in tablets and gel capsules. The essential oil must be properly diluted before application.

Other Uses


Scots pine trees are highly valued in the timber industry, being used for furniture and building various other structures. Scots pine trees are typically ornamental, popularly used for Christmas trees, but they are also commonly planted along roadsides. Scots pine trees are also used to build roof beams, furniture, fences, doorways, and stairs. Scots pine pulp is often made into paper as well. On the other hand, the resin was traditionally made into tar, and is still made into turpentine, which is the volatile oil distilled from pine resin.


Raw and Simply Processed Pine

As previously mentioned, buying scots pine for growing purposes can be achieved at any local nursery or online carrier. Pine wood can be purchased for building or already crafted into various furniture items. Pine essential oil and turpentine can be found in specialty nutrition shops and some pharmacies.

Scots Pine Supplements

Pine bark supplements, sometimes referred to as condensed tannins, are available either online or at specialty nutrition shops, mainly in capsule form. These supplements are commonly hailed for their antioxidant content. Some products labeled as "pine bark" may contain an extract from any one of several different pine species - namely P. pinaster - so interested parties are advised to check supplements carefully.

Plant Biology


Pine trees are part of the Pinaceae family, which encompasses up to 250 different species of coniferous trees and shrubs, divided into 11 genera. The Pinus genus is made up of approximately 150 different coniferous trees.

Pinus sylvestris is a hardwood tree that can grow up to 100 feet (30 m) tall. It has reddish brown bark and needle-like blue-green leaves, and it produces small, spherical cones. Pinecones are egg-shaped with woody scales that protect the seeds inside.

Varieties and Subspecies of Scots Pine

Contemporary taxonomists recognize up to five or six different varieties of Pinus sylvestris, although at some point, almost 100 of them had been described. Most of these varieties are very similar-looking, differing mostly in their resin composition.

The most abundant variety is P. sylvestris var. sylvestris, which can be found from Scotland to Spain and Siberia. In addition, var. hamata, which grows mostly in the Balkans, Caucasus, and Crimea; var. mongolica, which grows in Southern Siberia and Northwestern China; var. nevadensis, confined to Southern Spain (the Sierra Nevada); and var. cretacea, which grows between eastern Ukraine and western Russia, are all agreed upon as distinct varieties by experts. On the other hand, controversy still exists regarding P. sylvestris var. lapponica, which grows in extreme northern areas of Europe, and is sometimes thought to be part of the sylvestris variety.


Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Soil pH4.5 – 5.0 (Very strongly acidic), 5.1 – 5.5 (Strongly acidic), 5.6 – 6.0 (Moderately acidic)
  • Growing habitatCool temperate regions, Temperate climates, Mountain regions, Woodlands
  • Plant spacing average5 m (16.4 ft)

Scots pines are relatively low maintenance trees to grow. They require full sun and medium water, and they prefer well-drained soils, although they can tolerate dry soil. The optimal pH range of the soil is 4.5 – 6.0, though the tree can tolerate as low as 4.0 and as high as 7.0. Trees should be planted 14 feet (4.25 m) apart. Scots pines do well with cool summer climates, which is why they primarily grow in the Northern Hemisphere.

Additional Information

Quick Facts (Additional Information)
  • Other usesFurniture/carpentry, Timber

Economic Data

The main economic value of Scots pines lies in the timber industry, since their soft, reddish wood is widely used for home furniture. The pulp is also used for making paper. In the United States, they have added seasonal value as live holiday decor: approximately 30% of the 35 million Christmas trees harvested and sold annually belong to the Pinus sylvestris species. China currently leads world production of pine trees.