Spruce tip syrup used to be quite popular back in the day. It was used throughout Europe and by the pioneers in North America. Since Spruce tips grow in the spring, this syrup would have been a seasonal type of medicine. I generally make my evergreen syrup using needles and cones as these parts of the plant are most readily available, and have medicinal value as well.
Energetically, evergreens are super appropriate to use as medicine throughout the winter. Although most of the trees have lost their leaves by now, evergreens remain green, showing us that nature lives all year long. Evergreens are also helpful with the particular ailments that abound during the cold and dark season. For the following recipe, I harvested from Norway spruce (Picea abies) and White pine (Pinus alba). Not the time of year for the tips so I used needles, twigs, cones. It turned out quite delightful with a predominantly sweet taste and evergreen-almost citrus undertones.
Evergreen Syrup Recipe:
White pine needles, some twig ~2 oz weight (other pine species can be used)
Spruce needles, 2 cones ~2 oz weight (other spruce species can be used)
Filtered water to cover
Honey- half of the amount of decoction that remains (a 1:2 ratio honey:decoction)
The weights are listed because I had them handy, however there is no set amount – it all depends on how much syrup you want to make. Put the plant material in a pot and cover with water. Bring this to a boil and then lower to simmer until the liquid is halved. I used a spoon as a measuring stick. You can also have a measuring cup handy to pour the liquid back and forth until it measures half of water added.
Reducing the decoction to half of the original liquid took almost ten hours. The liquid is then strained out, put back in the pot without the needles, and then the honey is added. The amount of honey to add is equal to half the amount of concentrate, so 8 ounces of concentrate would require 4 ounces of honey, or a 2:1 ratio. Warm and stir the mixture, and the syrup is done!
Medicinal Uses for the Syrup
Tree medicine is very powerful when grounding is needed. It fosters opening up to old wisdom, and letting oneself be cared for by the Earth. The evergreen forest is quiet, and feels limitless and mysterious. Evergreen syrup is good medicine for reflecting, meditating, and otherwise conjuring up introspective energy.
Decomposition of evergreen needles lowers the surrounding soil pH to provide a particularly acidic environment, a fact that I find interesting and relevant to its use as an antiseptic.
In Europe, pine products have been used as medicine since the Middle Ages, and their medicinal properties are pretty uniform across the Pinus genus. It acts as a stimulating antiseptic for respiratory infections and stuck mucus, and is useful for bronchitis, and at onset of colds and flus to stop infection. Pine is also used for coughs and asthma.
Spruce is useful to cut phlegm in the throat and lungs, and for opening air passages. It is high in vitamin C content, and can also be helpful for bladder conditions and in cases of leucorrhea.
Overall, Spruce and Pine syrup is great medicine to have on hand during the winter and early spring season. It can be used for acute illness, and as a winter tonic to provide a bit of sunshine in the form of a local source of vitamin C. Evergreen syrup is also really tasty, making it an easy medicine to work with as it can be added to hot water, porridge, pancakes, or taken straight.
The medicinal uses were compiled from the following sources:
The Earthwise Herbal, Part 2, Matthew Wood
Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss
One of my favorite online resources: Plants for a Future
Michelle Czolba dedicates her life to connecting with the Earth, spiritual growth, and creativity. She creates natural skin care products with the wild flair and passion of the green Earth and shares her knowledge on her website and blog Wildly Natural Skin Care