The edible nuts of pinyon and are in demand because of their delicate flavor and are probably the most commercially valuable product of the species. Pinyon ranks first among the native nut trees that are not also cultivated. The nuts are commonly sold and eaten after roasting in the shell, but small quantities are sold raw. They were once a staple food of Southwestern Indians. Local residents now harvest quantities for the local and gourmet market, but they are in competition with many wild animals that also seek the nuts as food.
Pinyon nuts are a preferred food for turkeys, pinyon jays, woodrats, bears, and other wildlife, and they are a common food for deer, particularly during harsh winters with deep snows. Pinyon-juniper woodlands provide habitat for a varied wildlife population, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, desert cottontail, mountain cottontail, and wild turkey.
Poor growth form and small size of two-needle pinyon has limited its use for sawn products. Specialized woodworking shops use the wood for novelties, and small sawmills produce mine timbers and railroad ties. Two-needle pinyon has been used for pulping in the Southwest, but only to alleviate shortages of normally used mill-residue chips and pulpwood of other species. It has been widely used for fuel since the pitchy wood has a higher heat value than any of its associates except the oaks and burns with a pleasing aroma. It is also occasionally processed for charcoal.
Pinyons have been cut for private and commercial use for Christmas trees. These beautiful little trees are slow growing but should be more widely used for ornamental purposes. Two-needle pinyon is the state tree of New Mexico.
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