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The piñon (or pinyon) pine group grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten. The wood, especially when burned, has a distinctive fragrance—making it a common wood to burn in chimineas. The pinyon pine trees are also known to influence the soil in which they grow.
Some of the species are known to hybridise, the most notable ones being P. quadrifolia with P. monophylla, and P. edulis with P. monophylla.
The Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) takes its name from the tree, and pinyon nuts form an important part of its diet. It is very important for regeneration of pinyon woods, as it stores large numbers of the seeds in the ground for later use, and excess seeds not used are in an ideal position to grow into new trees. The Mexican Jay is also important for the dispersal of some piñon species, as, less often, is the Clark's Nutcracker. Many other species of animal also eat pinyon nuts, without dispersing them.
These additional Mexican species are also related and mostly called pinyons:
The three bristlecone pine species of the high mountains of the southwestern United States, and the lacebark pines of Asia are closely related to the pinyon pines..