White Spruce Information: Learn About White Spruce Tree Uses And Care
The white spruce (Picea glauca) is one of the most popular hardwoods used in furniture making due to its strength, durability and beauty. It is also known as the “American elm”. White spruces are native to North America but have been introduced into many other areas of the world including Europe, Asia and Australia. They are commonly found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The white spruce grows from a large trunk with branches that grow at right angles to each other. Its leaves are opposite to each other on both sides of the stem. The bark is smooth and light brown while the wood is dark green or blackish-brown in color. The wood is very strong and resistant to warping, splitting or cracking when cut or sawed.
White spruces are often used in veneer work because of their resistance to warping and splitting. They are also commonly used in cabinetmaking due to their strength and toughness. White spruces are sometimes called “Elms” because they resemble elm trees.
White spruce lumber is usually sold by the board foot (1/4 inch). A 1/2 inch piece weighs approximately .50 pound and a 1 inch thick board weighs about 1.5 pounds. Its weight varies depending on its moisture content or how dry it is.
White spruces are commonly used as Christmas trees due to their straight trunks, prickly leaves and strong branches. After they drop their leaves, the trees can be left in the landscape as an evergreen screen or windbreak. The wood burns slowly, evenly and makes very hot fires.
There are two types of white spruces: the Engelmann Spruce which is shorter and narrower than the blue or black spruces. The other type is the Colorado Blue Spruce, which is slightly less dense and stiffer than the Engelmann but is less resistant to disease.
White spruces prefer well-drained, acidic soil. The trunks can grow up to 8 feet in diameter but are commonly 4 feet in diameter. They can grow up to 150 feet in height. Their root systems extend far beyond their tree line but are shallow and wide. It is common for white spruces to grow in clusters or groups.
This tree prefers cold temperatures and cannot tolerate hot weather. They can survive short periods of frost but cannot survive long, hot, dry summers. This tree is usually found at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
White spruces do not produce viable seeds. Reproduction occurs through spreading its root system and reseeding itself. One mature tree can spread to cover one acre of land.
These trees do not usually live longer than 200 years but some can live up to 500 years. The oldest living white spruce is 750 years old and located in Yellowstone National Park.
The wood is very resistant to decay and termites, which makes it a good choice for docks, piers and other structures located near water.
White spruces are sometimes also called “Whispering Pines” because the wind moving through their needles makes a swooshing noise that can be heard from a distance.
The Ojibway Indians used the cones to make syrup, they also boiled and drained the young buds as a substitute for potatoes.
Some Native American tribes used the pitch to waterproof their canoes.
Several types of squirrels, birds and insects live in spruce forests. They are also a source of food for bears, deer and other animals.
The long, flexible needles make the spruces very attractive as Christmas trees. The light, soft wood is not used much except for pulp or firewood.
The branches break easily under heavy snowfall which can make it hard for trees to survive in areas with heavy snowfall.
Their shallow roots make them more vulnerable to windstorms than other types of trees.
The tree’s dark green needles turn yellow in the fall before they drop off. The older the tree, the more vivid the yellow and orange foliage.
The spruces are cone-bearing trees that grow throughout Canada and northern United States. There are about 30 different types of spruces, including the white, black and red varieties. All are evergreens and most grow in clusters.
The Serbian Spruce is the largest of the white spruces, growing to over 150 feet with a 6 foot diameter trunk. It has a short, wide shape and a rounded crown.
The red spruce has the finest wood of all the North American spruces and is very resistant to rot. It doesn’t have a pleasing grain pattern, however, so it is rarely used for lumber.
There are about 500 known species of spruces, many of which have “spruce” in their common names, growing throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They grow mainly in mountainous regions in Canada, the northern United States and into Mexico.
The Engelmann Spruce can live up to 1,000 years and has a straight, cylindrical shape. It is also found in subalpine forests and can survive cold temperatures, heavy snowfall and drought.
Sources & references used in this article:
The effects of nitrogen stress on the stable carbon isotope composition, productivity and water use efficiency of white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) seedlings by NJ Livingston, RD Guy, ZJ Sun… – Plant, Cell & …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library
Isolation and characterization of a dehydrin gene from white spruce induced upon wounding, drought and cold stresses by S Richard, MJ Morency, C Drevet, L Jouanin… – Plant molecular …, 2000 – Springer
Measurement of a rugulosin-producing endophyte in white spruce seedlings by MW Sumarah, JD Miller, GW Adams – Mycologia, 2005 – Taylor & Francis
Optimum nutrient concentrations and CND scores of mature white spruce determined using a boundary-line approach and spatial variation of tree growth and nutrition by PO Quesnel, B Côté, JW Fyles… – Journal of plant …, 2006 – Taylor & Francis