Pine (Pinaceae)

Just in case you were wondering, yes, you really can eat your Christmas Tree! All pine nuts are edible and so are the needles from the majority of pine, spruce or fir trees, including the Norway spruce which is a popular choice of Christmas tree in this country. The needles have a strong and distinctive but pleasant flavour and the younger needles, which are softer and lighter in colour, have a milder flavour that works well in cooking. The needles can be added to your Christmas roast or even the cocktails. Alternatively steep a few sprigs in hot water for five minutes to make a tea which is high in vitamins A and C and trace minerals.

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic with antimicrobial and antifungal properties and it can be directly applied to wounds or sores to disinfect and staunch bleeding. Pine honey is great for sore throats as it is very soothing and fights infection too. A lovely vinegar can be made by filling a jar to the top with needles from your favourite pine tree, checking first that it is an edible variety. Then fill your jar with apple cider vinegar, seal tightly and the wait for up to six weeks. Once it is ready it can be added to salads and other dishes or a teaspoon of the vinegar can be mixed with a little hot water and honey to make a medicinal drink.