Seed of the Week: Pine Seed

The mystery seeds from last week were from a pine, believe it or not.


We did a common experiment to see whether open, dry pine cones do indeed close up when placed in water. The seeds floated out of the first cone when we first placed it into the water.


And then the pine cone did close up, remarkably quickly.

We looked at another open pine cone.


You can just see tips of the seed wings on the hard pine cone scales. Those wings help them disperse in the wind, like the maple keys they resemble.


Here are pine cones on the ground. What kind of weather have we been having? (Hint: see above.)


Pine cones are often seen hanging on the tree. It takes at least nine months for the seeds to mature within the female cones. Some species require up to two years for the seeds to mature.

Even once the seeds are mature, certain types of pine cones remain closed until they are exposed to the intense heat of a fire.

The seed itself is within the winged structure. If you were to remove the coating, it would look like a pine nut:


Although the tree associated with the Sonoran desert is usually the saguaro cactus, there are a few pine trees that are planted in urban areas. Two pines that can grow in hot dry conditions are the Mondel or Afghan pine, Pinus eldarica, and the Aleppo pine, Pinus halepensis. They are not native North America, but to regions around the Mediterranean.

What kind of pine trees grow where you live? Have you ever seen a pine seed?

Related activities:

Fibonacci numbers in pine cones

Have you ever tried a pine nut? Look for some in you grocery store and give them a try.


  1. Jade

    Great post Roberta – I love all the details to show how the seeds move from cone to forest floor!

    To answer your questions – the dominant pine growing in my neighborhood (Kitsap County, Washington) is the Western White pine (Pinus monticola). My curiosity has definitely drawn me to extract seeds and investigate – and if I bring the cones in the house, the warmth of the fire will usually encourage them to open and shed the seeds.


  2. Roberta

    One thing we have plenty of here is outside warmth to open pine cones, we just don’t often have the rain to close them again. 🙂

  3. ramblingwoods

    I enjoyed this post. We have two large spruce trees that have many cones, I will have to pick them up and take a look…My Festival of The Trees Post..Herbie The Elm Tree

  4. Roberta

    Oh, I read an article about Herbie the Elm tree. That is such a moving story.

  5. juntan

    im from borneo…actually i hav some pine seeds…n i just plant it…we’ll c whether it will grow…please pray 4 me…ehehe…bcus….i wan pine tree….

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