Pinus edulis

Taxonomy: Gymnospermae, Pinaceae, Pinus edulis

Common names: Pinyon, Colorado Pinyon, Two Leaf Pinyon, Nut Pines, Piñon


Produced By: Rondus Chee, Cuauhtemoc Rios, Katrina Begay (Summer 2001)


A native of both New Mexico and Arizona, Pinus edulis grows in the southern Rocky Mountain region from Utah to Colorado. It grows in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. The Piñon grows in woodlands, plateaus, mesas, and lower mountain slopes at elevations of 4,000-9,000 ft. It is adapted to a wide range of soils, moisture conditions, and temperature. The Pinyon can be found growing alone or in small stands. This tree is slow growing, and long lived (Mayes & Boyle, 1989).


 (Pictures by: C. Rios)

 (Pictures by: C. Rios)

 (Pictures by: C. Rios)

 (Pictures by: C. Rios)



Pinus edulis is a small evergreen tree that reaches an average height of 40 ft. The has straggling foliage, a short crooked trunk, and rough reddish brown bark (Kearney & Peebles, 1960).

The cones are reddish to yellow-brown in color, have an oval to globular shape, and are 1-3 inches in length. 

  The needles are curved, bluish-green in color, measure about ¾-1 ½ inches in length, and grow in fascicles of 2-3 subtended by a thin papery non-persistent sheath (Kearney & Peebles, 1960). 



Medicinal Uses: 

  The needles and the pitch can be harvested at any time of the year, however it is easier to harvest during the summer as warmer temperatures soften the pitch and make it easier to collect.


  • The needles are used as a gentle diuretic and can be used as an expectorant.
  • Piñon needles can also be boiled to make a flavorful tea (Mayes & Boyle 1989).


Pitch- the sap or crude turpentine that exudes from the bark of Pines (Randomhouse Inc, 1997)


  • To promote warming and healing of atrophied limbs that have recently undergone casting, apply and cover with a bandage for two weeks. Protect the bandage with plastic when showering.
  • Melt pitch and mix with red clay to make a salve that soothes irritated skin, and can be used as sun block (Mayes & Boyle 1989).
  • Warm pitch and apply to skin embedded with splinters, glass, etc. Let the pitch set, and peel off. This removes the objects that were in the skin (Willis, 1985).


Non-Medicinal Uses:


Pinus edulis is traditionally sold at Christmas time in Christmas tree lots in the Southwest. The branches are often twisted into aromatic wreaths and other ornaments. The wood is valuable for firewood, and many people plant Pinyon pine around the perimeter of their land in single or multi-rows to act as a windbreak.


Nutritional uses:

  Piñon seeds are roasted, salted, and eaten as a snack. They contain riboflavin, niacin, and protein.  





1)     Boyle, Barbara & Mayes, Vernon, 1989. Nanise, Navajo Community College Press, Arizona. Pp.78-80. 

2)     Little, Elbert L., 1980. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North America Trees, Chanticleer Press, Inc., New York. Pp.276. 

3)     Quattrocchi, Umberto, 2000. CRC World Dictionary of PLANT NAMES: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms and Etymology, Volume III M-Q, CRC Press, New York. Pp.2077.

4.) Rios, Imelda, 2001. Personnal Interview, Las Cruces, NM.

5)     Willis, JC, 1985. A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns, Cambridge University Press, New York. Pp.903&901.

6)  1997, Random House Webster's College Dictionary, Random house, inc. New York 2nd edition Pg. 993

7)  Tree & Shrub planting Handbook for NM & AZ, USDA, NRCS 

8)  Bruneton, Jean, 1999. Pharmacognosy Phytochemistry Medicinal Plants, Lavoisier Publishing, Paris. Pg. 583

9)  Kearney, Thomas H and Robert H. Peebles, 1960. Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London