In the case of pine cones and pine needles, the same material from which most pine trees are grown, there are some obvious differences between the two. For instance, pine needles are usually made up primarily of scales (or wood fibers). They grow in clusters and appear to drop off after they are on the trunk of a tree. They do not drop when they fall from the tree, although many pine trees will lose their needles. However, unlike pine cones which can be found on branches and sticking out from the trunk of the tree, the pine needles only protrude above their respective branches (the ones in the picture above are protruding above their own branches in this photo).
The main difference between the two is that pine needles are not edible, unlike pine cones. But even though pine cones have been known to make excellent Christmas decorations, pine needles are also quite lovely in their natural form. The shape and texture of pine needles may look somewhat random, but they were once considered a very valuable commodity by Native Americans. They were prized for use as currency and were commonly used to carve items into the shape of animals and people. As such, the shapes and textures of pine needles represent the same cultural meaning today as they did hundreds of years ago.
In addition, pine needles have a completely different composition than pine cones. Because of this, they are also not edible, unlike pine cones. However, pine needle makers do find a way to transform pine needles into edible treats, such as making pine paste out of them. This paste can then be used as a sweet treat, or added to baked goods to give them a unique flavor. It can also be used to add color to food, as in apple pie.
Each of these parts is used for different purposes. Pine needles are used to weave, as in Indian pottery. The texture and colors of pine needles are also used to create various art objects, including tapestries. In fact, many people in New England used pine needle weaving as a profitable trade during the middle ages, as evidenced by the existence of several pine furniture manufacturers in the area. Pine needles are also used to make bags and boxes, as in bags of dried flowers and herbs. They are also made into small pillows and throw pillows.
Another use for pine needles is as soil substitutes. Native American Indians would use pine needles to fertilize their gardens. They would soak the needles in water, which would cause the needles to break down into small pieces that would eventually be released into the ground, where they would take the nutrients they were lacking in their soil. When these nutrients were added to the soil, the plants thrived, resulting in a better growing season. Today, pine straw is harvested to make compost at farms throughout the US and Canada.
Pine needles have also been used as a fertilizer for home gardens for generations. Although this process is not as old as needle weaving, the methods used to harvest and preserve pine needles date back centuries. Today, many gardeners find that using pine needles as a fertilizer helps plants grow healthier and longer.