Spruce (Picea)

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  1.   1.  Description
    1.   1.1  Types
  2.   2.  Uses
    1.   2.1  Wood
    2.   2.2  Medicinal
    3.   2.3  Food
    4.   2.4  Other
  3.   3.  More
  4.   4.  'Souls
Common Name Spruce
Latin Name Picea (genus)
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Red pine trees on either side of a white spruce tree. (esagor@Flickr)

1.  Description

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the earth. Spruces are large evergreen coniferous trees, from 20–60 metres (66–200 ft) tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form. The needles, or leaves, of spruce trees are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion, each needle on a small peg-like structure called a pulvinus. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pulvinus (an easy means of distinguishing them from other similar genera, where the branches are fairly smooth).

1.1  Types

Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

Picea mariana is a slow-growing, small upright tree (rarely a shrub), having a straight trunk with little taper, a scruffy habit, and a narrow, pointed crown of short, compact, drooping branches with upturned tips. Through much of its range it averages 5–15 m tall with a trunk 15-50 cm diameter at maturity


Common -- It commonly grows in pure stands on organic soils and in mixed stands on mineral soils. It is tolerant of nutrient-poor soils, and is commonly found on poorly drained acidic peatlands.

Red Spruce (Picea rubens)

Red Spruce is a medium to slow growing tree, growing to 18–40 metres high. The leaves are needle-like and yellow-green, four-sided, curved with a sharp point, and extend from all sides of the twig.


Common -- Its habitat is moist but well-drained sandy loam. It is closely related to Black Spruce, and hybrids between the two are frequent where their ranges meet.

White Spruce (Picea glauca)

The white spruce is a large coniferous evergreen tree which grows normally to 15 to 30 metres (49 to 98 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of up to 1 metre (3.3 ft). The bark is thin and scaly, flaking off in small circular plates 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) across.

The leaves are needle-like, 12 to 20 millimetres (0.47 to 0.79 in), blue-green above, and blue-white below. The cones are pendulous, slender, cylindrical, 3 to 7 centimetres (1.2 to 2.8 in) long and 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) wide when closed, opening to 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in) broad. They have thin, flexible scales 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long, with a smoothly rounded margin. They are green or reddish.


Common -- White spruce generally occurs on well-drained soils, although it also occurs in soils of glacial origin.

2.  Uses

2.1  Wood

  • Spruce is useful as a building wood. Spruce wood is used for many purposes, ranging from general construction work and crates to highly specialised uses, and as a tonewood in many musical instruments.
  • It was also used for paper-making in the time of humanity.

2.2  Medicinal

  • The fresh shoots of many spruces and pines are a natural source of vitamin C.

2.3  Food

  • The sap can be used to make spruce gum.
  • The leaves and branches, or the essential oils, can be used to brew spruce beer.
  • The resin can be used in the manufacture of pitch.

2.4  Other

  • Native Americans in North America use the thin, pliable roots of some species for weaving baskets and for sewing together pieces of birch bark for canoes.

3.  More

4.  'Souls

  • Hey, did your character do something cool with this plant?
  • Or maybe your pack has it for trade?

Categories: Flora | Resources