Pine cones are an incredibly intricate natural item. Pine cone crafts are made by utilizing these fascinating waste products of many coniferous trees.
Pine trees (Pinus species) are only one of many different trees that produce the woody protective seed coverings. Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga species), Larch, (Larix species; one of only a handful of deciduous cone bearing trees) and spruce, (Picea species) also make their own particular brand of cones.
They are all different, from the massive cones of Pinus ponderosa (in the picture above) to the delicate forms of larch, hemlock and spruce.
In some cases, the seeds are hunted for and the cones picked apart by squirrels or Clarks nutcrackers, a large jay like bird.
Some of the hardiest species of pine require the intense heat of a wildfire to release the seeds to germinate in the fire darkened soil.
Each year, many pine trees produce copious amounts of cones, dropping them to the ground beneath. Collect them in the late fall before they have a chance to get damaged by winter storms.
A good time to go looking for pine or cones of other tree species is after a wind storm.
Most are loosely attached (purposely, for just this reason) so you can find them recently released before they get trampled or ransacked by animals for the seeds they contain.
To remove the seeds, simply keep them in a paper bag in a warm room and the cones will open and shed the seeds.
Most pine seeds require either heat or freezing to release them from dormancy - after you put the cones in the oven for a few minutes to open them, scatter the seeds in a nursery bed to stratify over winter, and they'll germinate and grow into tiny pine trees in the spring.
Pine cone crafts can run the gamut of using the complete cone to attach to twig wreaths, or cut into sections to make into amazingly realistic looking flower pictures.
I like to use the many different kinds of cones as part of a display. Even if they're not made into something, they're so intricate and beautiful.
Here are a few ways to enjoy pine (and other conifer) cones;