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Pinus roxburghii - Sarg.                
Common Name Chir Pine
Family Pinaceae
Synonyms P. longifolia. non Salisb.
Known Hazards The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[222].
Habitats Forms extensive forests to 2700 metres[51]. Does best on north slopes or on good soils[146].
Range E. Asia - Himalayas from Afghanistan to Bhutan.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of cone
Pinus roxburghii is an evergreen Tree growing to 40 m (131ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen in April. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Pinus roxburghii Chir Pine

Pinus roxburghii Chir Pine
Woodland Garden Canopy;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Manna;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Seed - raw or cooked[51, 63, 158, 183, 272]. Not very nice, it has a strong flavour of turpentine[105] and is only eaten as an emergency food[177]. A reasonable size, the seed is up to 11mm long[200]. A sweet edible manna exudes from the bark and twigs[177, 183]. It is actually a gum[177]. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiseptic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Rubefacient;  Stimulant;  Vermifuge.

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge[4]. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections[4]. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB[4]. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers[4]. The wood is diaphoretic and stimulant[240]. It is useful in treating burning of the body, cough, fainting and ulcers[240].
Other Uses
Charcoal;  Dye;  Herbicide;  Ink;  Lighting;  Resin;  Wood.

A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles[168]. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat[201]. A resin is obtained from the sapwood[51, 64, 158]. Trees are tapped for three years and then rested for three years[146]. The yield is up to 5.5 kilos per tree[146]. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile[64]. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood[4, 64]. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields[64]. Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin[64] and is separated by distillation[4, 64]. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc[4]. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc[4]. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc. The wood is very resinous and can be splintered and used as a torch[145]. A charcoal made from the leaves, mixed with rice water, is used as an ink[146]. Wood - moderately hard. Used for construction, shingles, boxes etc. It is useful in cold climates but is not resistant to white ants[46, 146, 266].
Cultivation details                                         
Thrives in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loam[1, 11]. Succeeds on calcareous soils[11]. Dislikes poorly drained moorland soils[1]. Dislikes shade[146]. Established plants tolerate drought[200]. The chir pine is not very hardy in Britain, succeeding outdoors only in the mildest areas of the country[11, 81]. In the driest parts of its native range the leaves are shed after 10 - 11 months, making it deciduous[200]. Trees are extensively tapped for their resin in India[64] and are the main source of resin in that region[11]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200]. This species is closely related to P. canariensis[200]. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby reducing the amount of plants that can grow under the trees[18]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].
It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4°c can improve the germination of stored seed[80]. Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two[11]. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow[K]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm[200]. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well[K]. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[200]. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away[81].
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[51]Polunin. O. and Stainton. A. Flowers of the Himalayas.
A very readable and good pocket guide (if you have a very large pocket!) to many of the wild plants in the Himalayas. Gives many examples of plant uses.
[63]Howes. F. N. Nuts.
Rather old but still a masterpiece. Has sections on tropical and temperate plants with edible nuts plus a section on nut plants in Britain. Very readable.
[64]Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins.
A very good book dealing with the subject in a readable way.
[80]McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
[81]Rushforth. K. Conifers.
Deals with conifers that can be grown outdoors in Britain. Good notes on cultivation and a few bits about plant uses.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[145]Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P. Forest Flora of Srinagar.
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
[146]Gamble. J. S. A Manual of Indian Timbers.
Written last century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.
[158]Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur.
A good flora for the middle Himalayan forests, sparsly illustrated. Not really for the casual reader.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.
[272]Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
raj kumar Sun Aug 30 2009
can the needles be used for any other purpose like heat generation or for charcoal etc. becuse the needeles are fire prone and almost every year the forest haveing these trees caught fire
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Subject : Pinus roxburghii  

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