Pine Tree Pollen StormA group of CORE hikers, myself included, headed out to the Bragg Creek area of Kananaskis Country this week to do a a little exploring around the Fullerton Loop trails. As we drove up the valley towards Allen Pond, we noticed that the air seem awfully hazy, and assumed that there must be logging trucks in the area, or maybe just the gusty wind that was kicking up dust on some back country roads.

As we climbed the trail along Fullerton Loop, we could see more of this fine dust being driven by the wind, moving up the valley and gathering in hollows between the hills. What could this be!

And then one of our group touched one of the pine trees that guard the trail, and indeed proliferate throughout the valley. POOF! An explosion of dust emanated from the tree and was swept away on the wind. With the thousands of pine trees on all the hills surrounding us, no wonder the valley was dusty.

That mystery solved we continued our circuit up Fullerton, onto Bobcat and finally returning on Sugar Momma trail, choking from the pollen and wishing that we had added dust masks to our list of trail essentials to carry in our packs. Little did we know that we were in the midst of a health benefit bonanza.

Pines, the most dominant group of trees in the park, begin to produce pollen in their annual reproductive cycle. Pines are especially interesting because they produce separate male and female cones. The pollen produced by male cones is carried to female cones by the wind.

Traditionally harvested throughout Asia for thousands of years, pine pollen has a long history of being used in Chinese medicine for its numerous health benefits. Containing over 20 amino acids and 8 essential amino acids, pine pollen is a natural, complete protein, rich with vitamins, folic acid and minerals. In addition to being superfood, pine pollen is also a rich source of phyto-androgens (plant based hormones). Harvested from pine trees with male flowers, the pine pollen can help to restore hormone levels in both women and men.

And pine pollen is collected and sold as a health food supplement. We should have brought some zip lock baggies with us.

Here are a couple of links with pine pollen information.

How I Eat/Drink/Use Pine Pollen

Canadian Pine Pollen

Pine pollen smoothie, anyone?

….see you on the trails….