The white spruce tree, also known as cat spruce and skunk spruce, is a coniferous tree found across North America.
|Scientific Name||Picea glauca|
|Other Names||Canadian spruce, Black Hills spruce, Western white spruce, Alberta white spruce, Porsild spruce, Single spruce, Black Hills white spruce|
Height: 50-100 ft. when mature
Needles (Leaves): Rigid, evergreen, 1/3 to 3/4inches long, the cross section is square, and the tips are pointy but not sharp, green to grey-green, pungent odor when crushed;needles borne on a woody peg
Trunk Diameter: 3.3 feet
Cones: Cylindrical, pendulous, slender, 1.25-2.75 inches long, 0.63 inches wide, flexible scales, thin, green or reddish, pale brown when mature
Seeds: Black, 0.09-0.13 inches in length and with a winglengthof 0.19-0.31 inches, pale brown in color
|Distribution/Range||Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon
United States: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Also found in the French territory of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
|Habitat||Floodplains, treeline sites and upland slopes, and other landscapes, at elevations from sea level up to 7,000 feet|
|Growth Rate||Medium, 12-24 inches per year|
Soil Requirements: Loamy, acidic, sandy, moist, clay and well-drained soils
Light Requirement: Full sun, tolerates shade
Rainfall: 7.9 inches to 49.2 inches
Winter Conditions: Cold, drawn out winters are preferred
Summer Conditions: Short summers with cold temperatures
|Diseases & Pests||Spruce budworms, yellow-headed spruce sawfly, European spruce sawfly, spruce beetle, and various looper species|
|Seedling Development||Seedlings prone to dying from frost, flooding, snowpress, browsing and competition|
|Wildlife Value||Nesting and shelter for many animals and birds, seeds used as food by crossbills, grosbeaks, and nuthatches, foliage eaten by deer, rabbits, and grouse; black bears and porcupines enjoy the bark|
|Uses||Wood used in construction and paper-making, timber is exported to Japan; used as a Christmas tree, cultivars used in Bonsai|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
Comparison with Other Spruce Trees
White Spruce vs. Blue Spruce
While the blue spruce is the most preferred spruce for a Christmas tree, the white spruce is only chosen as a last resort.
Black Spruce vs. White Spruce
The wood of the white spruce is valued as timber but the black spruce tree’s wood is not usable as such.
- Crushed white spruce needles give off a pungent smell, thus justifying the names cat spruce and skunk spruce.
- White spruce naturally hybridizes with the Engelmann spruce, Sitka spruce and black spruce.
- It is the state tree of South Dakota and provincial tree of Manitoba.
Published on February 3rd 2017 by Sudipto Chakrabarti under Spruce.
Article was last reviewed on 5th December 2022.
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