Skip to content

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Pine Needles & Pine Cones Represent?


Historic Cemetery Symbols

While it’s common for evergreen trees to be planted in historic graveyards, pine needles and pine cones are not symbols I see engraved on headstones as often as other trees – such as the oak tree.

Pine cones on a historic cemetery grave marker. (photo by Tui Snider)
Pine cones on a historic cemetery grave marker. (photo by Tui Snider)

Pine trees: Immortality

While it’s true that many coffins have been made from pine, this had more to do with practicality than symbolism. Where pine trees were widely available, they were often used to make coffins.

However, as a symbol (much like other evergreens, including holly, ivy, and yew) pine trees are associated with immortality and eternal life. Rather than lose their leaves each fall, pine trees stay green all year long, and in this way they symbolize the eternal nature of the soul. As for the pine cone, like corn, it may also be considered a fertility symbol because it holds the seeds for the plant.

The pine cones in the photo I shared on today’s post are perfectly centered in the middle of a headstone for a man and wife. What does it mean, exactly?  Most likely, the 3 pine cones are a symbol for the holy trinity. However, since pine cones may also be a fertility symbol, there is a slight chance that they mean the couple had 3 children.

That’s part of the fun of learning graveyard symbols; rather than tell you the whole story, they often point you in the direction you need to go to learn more through your own research!

My book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols

If you enjoy historic cemeteries, you may like to read my book Understanding Cemetery Symbols It’s a handy-dandy guide for taphophiles, genealogists, ghost hunters, and anyone else interested in the historic graveyard symbols that have become forgotten over the years.

Hey, you! Want to keep up with me?

BLOG POSTS: I’ve got 650+ articles here and am constantly adding more!

READ MY BOOKS: Check out my books, including Understanding Cemetery Symbols. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

Want a FREE Guide to Historic Cemeteries?

Sign up below to grab your FREE Cemetery Symbolism Guide:

We respect your email privacy

Tui Snider
Follow me:
Published inCemeteries & SymbolismTravel Photo Essays


  1. What a neat marking. Who would have thought that pine cones would be such a large part of our culture. Being from East TX. I’ve been surrounded by these sticky, prickly, “boring” trees all my life. Who’d have thought they were “immortal”, “fertile”, and would represent the trinity or children.
    I knew that the Victorians we’re communicating with fans and flowers. Can you imagine how scandalous it would have been if a man would have included a pine cone in his bouquet to a woman he wish’d To court?!?! Shocking!! He might have been hung from the town square!
    Thanks for sharing Tui, pine trees are a little less boring and hold a bit of magic for me now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.