Energetic Return Rates from Limber Pine Seeds
Limber pine seeds were potentially a valuable food resource for native occupants of the high mountains of the intermountain west. The seeds are rich in fats and proteins, with a greater caloric content by weight than pinyon pine seeds. The seeds are available in late summer, and collecting them is fairly easy, yielding large returns per time spent collecting. If the seeds are eaten whole or ground into meal without hand-hulling, return rates are very high, similar to rates for large and small game animals. The kernels are difficult to remove from their hulls, however, resulting in very low return rates if hand-hulled. Energetic considerations indicate that whole or ground limber pine seeds could have served as an important storable late summer food for prehistoric highaltitude occupants.