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Pine cones are the woody conical or round shaped fruiting body of pine trees. They are built up of individual plates known as scales. The female pine cones hold seeds and when the seeds are mature, the scales open up and the seeds are released. Pine cones stay in the tree for different lengths of time dependent on the species of the tree. 

When do pine cones fall?

Pine cones fall in autumn and can be found not too far from conifer trees and in conifer dominated woodland.

Two species of native conifer tree produce cones: Scots pine and common juniper.

The non-native black pine can also be found in the UK. All of these trees have different shaped pine cones and will hold on to the cones for different lengths of time.

Learn more about the trees that produce pine cones

What can you do with pine cones?

1. Decorations 

The number one thing to do with pine cones has to be to use them as a decoration. Pine cones can be perfect for giving your home an autumnal feel.

You can buy beautiful wreaths filled with pine cones, but they are actually very easy to make. Simply take your pine cones and attach them to a loop of wire until you have a full wreath that is ready to hang on your door.

If you're looking for something even simpler, you can fill a clear vase with pine cones for a simple table centrepiece. You could also paint your pine cones or decorate them with craft materials for a colourful twist.

2. Rustic bird feeder

It's getting to that time of the year where the birds need all the feed they can get. Using pine cones as a natural feeder can be a lot of fun to make and they are really pretty too. All you need to do is wrap some string around the pine cones with plenty left over to tie to a branch. Then mix your bird feed in with lard to make a wonderfully sticky mix and then coat your pine cone in it - this is a perfect job for little ones. As a final step you can roll your sticky pine cone in some dry bird feed and then hang it on a tree.

3. Mulch

The simplest thing you can do with your collection of pine cones is to take it back to nature and use them as mulch. You can use the pine cones as a natural slug repellent that lasts as the pine cones take a long time to break down. They can also reduce soil erosion and provide habitat for spiders.

There are many other ways to use pine cones. However you choose to use them, pine cones are naturally beautiful - enjoy them this autumn!

More to see and do in autumn