PineCone Weather Station


Pinecones can forecast the weather! Pinecones are nature’s hygrometer; thus, no special equipment is required.

Three or four pinecones are all that is required. To keep them upright, have your kids line them up on a window sill or use some adhesive glue. The pinecones open in dry weather and close in damp weather. This process continues even after pinecones have fallen to the ground.

Everything makes sense! The microscopic, light seeds are hidden beneath the scales. Many of them resemble tiny maple tree helicopter seeds. They, like the maple, move with the wind. The small seeds can travel long on dry days; they absorb moisture and land under the tree rather than away from it on wet days.

Glue a straw to one of the scales to make your pinecone hygrometer look more official. Place the pinecone and straw indicator beside a sheet of paper and record each day’s movement, comparing it to the weather.

You can recycle the pinecone once you’ve finished weather forecasting. Stick a pine cone in a tree and smear it with peanut butter. Bird feeder in a flash!

Can pinecones predict how harsh winter will be?

According to some people, the height of pine cones in the trees can predict how hard the winter would be. The worse the season will be, the higher they are.

There are several beliefs about pine cones, including that if they’re more prominent, it’s because the tree expects a terrible winter and wants future saplings to have a chance to survive.

When there is bad weather, pine trees produce as many cones as they can. 

Many pinecones in the fall are thought to foreshadow a long, cold winter, similar to the forecasts that rely on an overflow of fruit or nuts to anticipate what winter weather would bring. Pine trees can take up to three years to develop pine cones, so scientists are doubtful.

Pinecones have a unique property in that they can be utilized to predict rain. Pinecones keep their scales open in dry weather to drop pollen and seeds, but as humidity rises, the scales close to protect the seeds or pollen inside. The scales of the pine cone absorb ambient moisture, swell, and crush shut, causing this. 

Why do people use pinecones as weather gauges?

Did you know that putting a pine cone in a beaker of water can help you forecast the water? Pine cones, in essence, serve as a natural hygrometer. The amount of moisture in the air is measured by a hygrometer. When you submerge a massive pinecone in water and take it out, then you’ll notice the scales on the tip of the pine cone are all closed. 

Now the question is, why does it happen? 

This happened because the seeds were being preserved. Pinecones do indeed contain seeds, which are primarily delivered by the wind. When the air is dry, pinecones open their scales to disseminate the seeds, and when the air is moist, they close their scales to keep the seeds dry on the inside. So, if it’s shut, there’s more humidity. If it’s open, the humidity will be reduced.

Do you wonder how to make a pinecone weather station?

The nature of pinecones can be used as a weather station. Like in low humidity, pine cones open, and in high humidity, they close. A homemade weather station can help you trace variations in the weather. 

In schools, we used to make hygrometers out of human hair to measure the humidity in the air. Many schools cannot use hair hygrometers because hair is considered human tissue. But you can make a good hygrometer out of a pine cone instead.

To make this, all you need is: 

  • a pine cone
  • a straight pin
  • a 2-litre bottle or a small container
  • a pen or marker
  • some glue
  • tape
  • a piece of paper

Begin by examining the pine cone closely. It’s made up of several scale-like components joined at a central core. As the humidity varies, these scales will shift, and we want to track that movement.

Insert the straight pin’s point into the end of one of the scales at the top of the cone. Remove the top of the 2-litre bottle and cut one side out. Attach the pinecone’s base to the bottle’s bottom using glue. Cut a piece of paper to fit along with the bottle’s interior and tape it in place. This is where we’ll make a note of the humidity and measure it. 

Mark the position of the straight pin’s head with the pen. This is where we’ll begin. We don’t yet know what humidity, it represents, but it serves as a point of reference. Outside, in a shady spot where it won’t be disturbed, place the pine cone. You may need to support it with a few pebbles or sticks if the weather is windy. Allow it to sit outside for the night.

Check your local weather the next day to see what the humidity level is. Examine the hygrometer on a pine cone. You’ll undoubtedly notice that the pin’s head has shifted. Mark its new location and identify it with the local weather’s humidity reading. We now have a known humidity reference point. Continue to record the humidity each day as the weather changes. Soon, your hygrometer will be calibrated with enough reference points to allow you to determine humidity without consulting the local weather forecast.

What’s going on? The pinecone scales are there to preserve its seeds. On the inner side of each scale, the pinecone develops one seed. The seeds are safe inside the scales while they are closed. Many plants release their seeds as soon as they reach maturity, but pine cones allow the pine tree to be more selective with its seed release.

A winglike feature on one end of many pine seeds allows them to twirl in the air like maple seeds. This causes them to fall more slowly, allowing the wind to transport them away from the parent tree. When the air is warm and dry, this works well. The seeds will become heavier due to moisture or rain, and they will not travel as far. How can the pinecone wait till it’s warm and dry before releasing its seeds?

The answer can be found in the scale structure of the cone. When the air is humid, the scale’s outer cells absorb moisture and expand, causing the outer cells to develop. To close the pinecone, the scale is bent inwards towards the core. When the air becomes dry, the scale’s outer surface cells shrink, turning the scale outwards and releasing the seeds. The pinecone will open and close when the humidity varies, utilizing it as a hygrometer. This only needs to happen a few times to release all of the seeds.

Pinecone facts for Kids

Pinecones close and open in response to humidity, assisting seed dissemination. There are many feather-light seeds inside the pine cone. Pine cone opens up when the weather is dry, allowing the seeds to be caught by the wind and disseminated far from the original tree.

When the humidity rises and rain is expected, the pine cone closes to prevent the seeds from escaping. Because the seeds are so light, they will become waterlogged and will only travel a short distance from the original source, which will be shaded, forcing them to compete for resources with the parent tree.

Recommended Read: Best Solar Weather Station

Scroll to Top