If you are in a survival situation in the woods and really hungry, and you are unsure about which plants are edible, can you eat pine needles?

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    There are so many edible plants that you can surely find something good to eat in the woods.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 18:25
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    @JayBazuzi Problem is, there are also so many poisonous plants...
    – berry120
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 23:41
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    My point is that wherever you are going, you could learn about a few easy, tasty, nutritious plants beforehand.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 18:28
  • I have seen claims of eating pine inner bark. The needle tea is great and is a good source of vitamin c, but needles are too harsh to eat. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 22:06

5 Answers 5


Pine needles have virtually no caloric value.
I would not recommend pine needles as an energy source, although they have plenty of vitamin C and make delicious tea. This is good in winter to avoid getting scurvy in a long-term survival situation.

As already mentioned, Yew needles are toxic to the human body. There are several genera of yew. Generally they grow at higher elevations and in man-made parks.

If anything looks like these yew needles, leave them be and don't eat them:

Yew needles - do not eat.

  • Assuming they are similar to rosemary, yeah... very very few calories: calorielab.com/search/?search_input=rosemary Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 1:49
  • Well, there is a good reason that there really aren't even any animals who feed on pine needles (except for the juicy light green needles which grow freshly in spring).
    – fgysin
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 9:31

All pines, spruces and firs have edible needles.

All yews are poisonous, and can look like some of the above, so be careful you have identified the tree correctly!


Yes & no. The U.S. Navy land survival training in Pensacola, Florida teaches students to chew on pine needles to obtain vitamin C. But you don't actually chew and swallow them.


In the spring you can commonly find delicious new shoots on spruce. They are quite good as a snack when there are no other significant sources of food to eat, or perhaps on a hike.


The resin has a lot of calories. On a video called How to eat a pine tree I think they said 2000 calories in a teaspoon full. In a museum in Hungary, they said the shepherds used to put it on their teeth from where it comes off slowly, and it gave them energy to walk all day.

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    There's no way a teaspoon of anything can give you more than a few tens of digestible calories. The highest calorie content is in fat at 9Cal/gram,and you can only get a few grams of any foodstuff in a teaspoon. 2000 (dietary) calories is near enough a day's worth of food.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 8:04
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    @ChrisH I can only assume they meant gram (small) calories, i.e. 2 large Calories, which seems plausible (USDA says 16 Calories in a teaspoon of sugar). A misleading choice of unit for a dietary context, of course.
    – Pont
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 10:01
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    @Pont that seems a reasonable interpretation. They don't sound so calorie-dense when you think of eating a cupful to get 100Cal.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 11:21
  • I spent a few minutes looking for references, and can't find anything substantial. I believe the comment by @Pont is reasonable, there several references supporting '16 Calories in a teaspoon of sugar' Commented May 14, 2017 at 10:44
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    @Pont, please note that over here in Central Europe we don't do that large/small calorie stuff: we use calories, cal. 1000 cal = 1 kcal (pronounced: kilocalorie, just like meters and kilometers, grams and kilograms, everything totally regular according to SI. Besides the cal being outdated and J or kJ being the regular unit of energy) Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 17:10

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