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216 × 138 × 20 mm
216 pages
101 illustrations, 82 in colour
01 Apr 2013

Pine Laura Mason

Resilient and tenacious, pine trees deserve our admiration. They have been the subjects of artists for centuries, particularly in China and Japan, where they symbolize wisdom and longevity. Pine symbolism runs deep in many cultures from East to West, from antiquity to the present: pine-cone staffs were carried by the worshippers of Bacchus in the classical world, and photographs of the majestic pine trees in the Yosemite Valley inspired the movement to establish national parks in nineteenth-century North America. 

The natural history of pine trees underlines their ability to survive in difficult environments, and their botany still puzzles and intrigues scientists. Their resin provided adhesives, waterproofing agents and medicines before oil derivatives and modern pharmaceuticals were developed. Their wood is ubiquitous, incorporated into buildings, furniture and paper pulp, and their cones fascinate with their complex shapes and provide pine nuts for animals and humans. Pine trees have inspired artists, writers, film-makers and photographers throughout history. 

A beautifully illustrated book that reveals the many ways in which pine trees have inspired and been utilized by humanity through history, Pine provides a fascinating survey of these rugged, aromatic trees.


‘all the volumes [in the Botanical series] combine scholarship with lively anecdote and are beautifully and generously illustrated . . . who would have thought conifers could be so interesting? Laura Masons Pine starts with a solid and enlightening description of the botanical structure, evolution and habitat of the Pinus genus. It then goes on to show how the pine and its derivatives from timber to Stockholm Tar have been used throughout history, how the tree has been depicted in art, its place in mythology, and its culinary uses (not limited to pinenuts) . . . Part of the appeal of these books is the unexpected facts and stories they throw up’ — The Spectator

Lily and Pine are beautifully produced, with an old-fashioned and wonderfully solid feel to them they are well illustrated with material from a very wide range of sources, and bound at a higher quality than the general run of hardback books, especially given the modest price. I can see them becoming collectors items.’ — Gardens Illustrated

‘Reaktion Books are building a tasty line in tree and plant books . . . beautifully produced with the qualities of a traditional novel, but illustrated page after page by colour photographs and drawings, the [Botanical] series aims to provide a cultural guide to species . . . Laura Masons Pine offers a valuable tour of the Pinus genus’ — Smallwoods magazine

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Laura Mason is a food historian and writer with a special interest in British foods and food customs. Her books include Sugar Plums and Sherbet (2003), Pine (Reaktion, 2013) and several recipe books for the National Trust, and she also contributed to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015). She lives in Yorkshire.

1 The Natural History of Pine Trees
2 Pine Trees in Myth and Reality
3 Pitch, Turpentine and Rosin
4 Pine for Timber and Torches
5 Pine for Food
6 Mythic Pine, Artist’s Pine
7 The Sound of the Wind in the Branches
Further Reading
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements