Nutritive Value of Chinese Masson Pine Pollen

A Study on the Nutritive Value of Pollen from the Chinese Masson Pine (Pinus massoniana) and its Effect on Fecal Characteristics in Rats

Authors: L. Zhao, W. Windisch, M. Kirchgel3ner (1996), Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft, Volume 35, Pages 341-347

The pollen from the Chinese Masson Pine (Pinus massoniana) is a well-known medicinal herb in traditional Chinese medicine, historically used for its various health benefits, including its role in alleviating chronic constipation, particularly in elderly men. This study explores the nutritional value of native and broken pollen from the Chinese Masson Pine and its effects on fecal characteristics and digestion parameters in rats.


To evaluate the nutritional content of native and broken Masson Pine pollen and its impact on fecal composition, digestibility of nutrients, and fecal microflora in rats.


Study Design


  • Thirty growing male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three groups of 10 animals each.
  • Another set of 12 growing female Sprague Dawley rats were used for fecal microflora analysis.


  • Rats were fed semisynthetic diets with either no pollen, 6% native pollen, or 6% broken pollen for 17 days.
  • Fecal samples were collected at day 11 to 17 and analyzed.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Native and broken pollen were analyzed for dry matter, crude protein, crude fat, total lipids, crude ash, starch, sugars, and fiber content.
  • Zinc content and its absorbability were also measured.

Tests Conducted


  • Fecal excretions were analyzed for fresh weight, dry matter, crude protein, and crude ash.
  • Apparent digestibility of these nutrients was calculated.

Microflora Analysis:

  • Fecal samples from female rats were analyzed for mesophilic aerobic bacteria, including Proteus mirabilis, Escherichia coli, and α-hemolysing streptococci.


Nutritional Composition

Native Pollen:

  • Dry matter: 94.7%
  • Crude protein: 12.7%
  • Crude fat: 1.5%
  • Total lipids: 7.3%
  • Crude fiber: 35.6%
  • Gross energy: 21.0 kJ/g
  • Metabolizable energy: 5.7 kJ/g
  • High in cell wall constituents, mainly lignin and cellulose

Broken Pollen:

  • Dry matter: 94.1%
  • Crude protein: 13.1%
  • Crude fat: 10.5%
  • Total lipids: 10.0%
  • Crude fiber: 27.3%
  • Gross energy: 22.1 kJ/g
  • Metabolizable energy: 9.0 kJ/g
  • Higher zinc absorbability (96%)

Fecal Characteristics and Digestibility

  • The addition of native pollen to the diet increased fecal mass by 71% compared to the control group.
  • The fecal dry matter content decreased from 88.0% (control) to 82.3% (native pollen) and 81.7% (broken pollen).
  • Apparent digestibility of dry matter fell from 95.1% (control) to 91.1% (native pollen) and 92.5% (broken pollen).
  • Crude protein digestibility decreased with pollen addition, more so with native pollen.

Fecal Microflora

  • Feeding broken pollen reduced the fecal contents of Proteus mirabilis and Escherichia coli while increasing α-hemolysing streptococci.
  • These changes suggest a beneficial shift in the gut microflora, reducing facultative pathogens.

Research Significance

The study provides insight into the nutritional value and digestive impact of Chinese Masson Pine pollen. It highlights the following:

Nutritional Content

  • The pollen is rich in fiber and has moderate levels of protein and fat.
  • Broken pollen exhibits higher energy and fat content compared to native pollen.

Digestive Impact

  • Pollen addition increases fecal mass and water content due to its high fiber content.
  • It affects the apparent digestibility of nutrients, particularly reducing protein digestibility, likely due to increased bacterial fermentation in the hindgut.

Gut Microflora

  • The study indicates a beneficial effect on gut microflora, reducing harmful bacteria like Proteus mirabilis and Escherichia coli.


The Masson Pine pollen, particularly in its broken form, offers significant nutritional benefits and impacts fecal characteristics positively by increasing fiber intake. It promotes a healthier gut environment by modifying the microflora composition favorably. The findings support the traditional use of Masson Pine pollen in managing digestive health and highlight its potential as a dietary supplement.


Zhao, L., Windisch, W., & Kirchgeßner, M. (1996). A study on the nutritive value of pollen from the Chinese Masson Pine (Pinus massoniana) and its effect on fecal characteristics in rats. Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft, 35(4), 341–347.