KILLER PINE CONES

Post last updated: January 3rd, 2019

WANNA CHUCKLE? Ginny and I have always joked, morbidly, about being killed by green, tightly closed...

Ginny and I have always joked, morbidly, about being killed by green, tightly closed pine cones falling from our pine trees. She dubbed them greenies.

There are several reasons that pine cones fall:

  • Over production by the tree
  • Damp conditions (closed scales)
  • Drought conditions (open scales)
  • Windy conditions
  • Stress (tree is dying)
  • Squirrel bombings

Don’t laugh at squirrel bombings. It happens. Whiskey, my cat, likes to keep me company while I work in the garden. A cat invasion of squirrel territory results in a warning ruckus. If ignored, one of the more militant of the bunch will heave a green pine cone larger than himself at my poor cat. At the same moment the pine cone hits the ground with a tremendous thud, mere inches from Whiskey, I see a blur of cat fur streak past my peripheral vision. I envy a cat’s speed and agility.

Not that speed and agility would do you much good when under attack by a greenie. They don’t exactly make those missile noises you hear on the Saturday cartoons. All is silent until that awful thud when it slams into the ground. If your head happens to be in the way, well, Ginny and I wonder about that.

It’s hard to determine what a greenie weighs. You can never get an accurate weight of something smaller than a human on the bathroom scale. In order to weigh a greenie, someone in my crowd, and I’m not saying it’s Ginny and I’m not saying it was me, took the greenie to the grocery store and surreptitiously weighed it on the produce scale. It was under a pound but we are still convinced it would be deadly when you add distance, velocity, and all that other scientific stuff. Think about what a 12-ounce jar of jam would do to you if it fell out of a tree and you can appreciate our concern about greenies.

In a quickie search of the web, I found no reported instances of Death by Greenie but in California, killer pine cones prompted loggers to nickname the Coulter pine cone “widow-makers.” A 10 pound, 16-inch long pine cone falling from 80 feet (or 30 feet if the tree is still growing), gives you the combination of height and size needed for a killer cone. Mention was also made of spiny claws encircling the pine cone to gouge you to death just in case the head impact failed to do the job. Nowadays, loggers wear hard hats in Coulter forests.

Australia has bunya pines that date back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods when dinosaurs roamed. Strangely, they are not pine trees but produce pine cones that are real head crushers at 22 pounds.

If you’ve got any tall tales about Greenies, I want to hear them.

14 thoughts on “KILLER PINE CONES”

  1. Good heavens. Never heard of greenie invasions upon innocent humans enjoying the peace and beauty of walking thru a pine tree forest. Does Washington know about this? Surely we can build a wall around those trees and protect the human populations.

  2. We never did this with greenies, but we would take the closed “brownies” and have pinecone fights. My brother’s “friend” threw one at me and it hit me straight in the face. When my mom discovered the source of the strange, yet almost perfectly symmetrical ‘rash’, the “friend” was banned from our house. Lol.

    1. Ms. Doolittle – If your friend had thrown a greenie at you all those years ago, you might not be here today. Or he could have put your eye out which is why your Momma banned him. I’d like to know what greenies weigh but every time I try to weigh something other than my fat little body on the bathroom scale, I get nothing.

  3. We have flying pine cones and whirling furry bundles of agile cats and mischievous squirrels, too. No death by pine cones here. One time when we were on vacay in Florida we witnessed a palm frond take out an elderly gentleman in front of Publix. The frond fell from the tree, knocking the poor man to the ground, he had a large gash in his head, blood was gushing, the rescue squad came and we never saw him come to. We often wondered what happened to him. Did he die? Did his obit read – killed by palm frond…. these burning questions. Keep your hard hat on and be safe. xo kim

    1. Kimmie – Wow, a killer palm frond. Who would have thunk it? But then, who would have thought pine cones could get so BIG. I don’t have a hard hat but I have a pith helmet given to me by the Mad Tattah from back in the days when I was going to get even with that scribe who preserved algebra on a papyrus. Yes siree, I was gonna cross the burning sands of Egypt and give that fella a reason to roll over in his tomb.

  4. Wow! I never knew that pine cones as large as 10 pounds and 16-inches long could exist! And even larger in Australia. Wow, again. I did know that squirrels are very intelligent, so I am not surprised that they toss greenie bombs at your cat.

  5. Are you sure the squirrels are bombing your cat or bombing you? You would both be in their territory.

    1. Miss Priss — I know you were hopeful they were trying to bomb me but the squirrels don’t start screeching when I walk out into the garden. The cat was at least six feet away from me and it fell inches from him.

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