Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 363–377 | Cite as

Nutritional Content of Scots Pine Inner Bark in Northern Fennoscandia

Nutritional Content of Scots Pine Inner Bark and Ethnographic Context of its Use in Northern Fennoscandia
  • Anna–Maria Rautio
  • Gudrun Norstedt
  • Lars Östlund

Nutritional Content of Scots Pine Inner Bark in Northern Fennoscandia. The overall aim of this study was to determine the nutritional benefits of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) inner bark and to position this traditional food resource within the Sami diet. We hypothesized that the nutritional and sugar content of inner bark varied annually, seasonally, with location, and even on a tree–by–tree basis. We concluded that Scots pine inner bark is an energy–rich plant food that, due to its high fibrous content, could sustain energy levels during long–term physical activity. It is also rich in minerals, primarily calcium and potassium. From historical records, we know that inner bark was harvested during early summer and we propose that this mainly depends on raised starch levels in the tree during this season. Scots pine stands and individual trees showed a large variance of soluble sugars during June, which explains the spatial patterns of bark–peeling scars in the landscape. However, nutrients and sugars alone cannot explain this spatial pattern. Rather, it is the result of many factors, such as the migratory pattern (i.e., where people were residing at the time of the inner bark harvest), the weather in a particular year (late or early summer), the availability of other food resources, and logistical reasons including processing of the inner bark.

Key Words

Forest history bark-peelings plant food culturally modified trees seasonality spatial pattern Pinus sylvestris ethnobotany 

El contenido nutricional del interior de la corteza de pino silvestre y contexto etnográfico de su uso en el norte de Fennoscandia. El objetivo general de este estudio fue determinar los beneficios nutricionales de la corteza interna del pino silvestre (Pinus sylvestris L.) y el lugar que ocupa este tradicional recurso alimenticio en la dieta del pueblo sami. Partimos de la hipótesis de que el contenido nutricional y de azúcar de la corteza interna varía cada año, e incluso de un árbol a otro, según la estación y el lugar. Nuestra conclusión es que la corteza interna del pino silvestre es un alimento vegetal que aporta una gran cantidad de energía y que podría mantener los niveles de energía durante largos períodos de actividad física debido a su alto contenido de fibra. Además, es rica en minerales, especialmente calcio y potasio. Gracias a la información que nos brindan los documentos históricos, sabemos que la corteza interna se recogía a principios del verano. Nuestra tesis es que esto se debe principalmente al hecho de que los niveles de almidón en el árbol son más elevados durante esta estación. Tanto los rodales como los árboles individuales mostraron una gran variación de azúcares solubles en junio, lo que explica los patrones espaciales relacionados con las cicatrices que se observan en la corteza de los árboles de la región. Sin embargo, los nutrientes y los azúcares no son los únicos factores que pueden explicar estos patrones espaciales. Más bien se podría decir que estos patrones espaciales son el resultado de diversos factores, como el patrón migratorio (es decir, el lugar donde vivían las personas durante la época en la que se recogía la corteza), las condiciones climáticas durante un determinado año (a comienzos o a finales del verano), la disponibilidad de otros recursos alimenticios y motivos logísticos, incluido el procesamiento de la corteza interna.



We are grateful to Adam Burström, Helena Lindén, Robert Nilsson, and Matilda Olofsson for their assistance during field work. Valuable advice was given by Mir Amir Hossein Mahboubi about the enzymatic sugar analysis and by Anders Muszta about the regression analysis. We also wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript, Jenny Stenberg at SCA Forest for letting us conduct the harvest experiment on their forest land and the Finnish National Board of Antiquities for providing the historical photographs. The Oscar and Lili Lamm Foundation and the Göran Gustafsson Foundation provided funding for this research.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna–Maria Rautio
    • 1
  • Gudrun Norstedt
    • 1
  • Lars Östlund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural ScienceUmeåSweden

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