Sitka spruce

Silhouette - Sitka spruce
  • Latin name: Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière
  • French name: Épinette de Sitka
  • Synonym(s): Tideland spruce , coast spruce
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 183309
Description

Leaves

  • Needle and needle cross section - Sitka spruce

Form

  • Straight, flattened
  • Keeled below
  • Sharp-pointed
  • Needles tend to radiate at right angles from the twig

Length

  • 20–30 mm

Colour

  • Upper surface yellowish-green
  • Prominent lines of white dots on lower surface

Buds

Form

  • Conical to dome-shaped
  • Resinous
  • Scales appressed
  • Outer scales blunt-tipped, shorter than the bud

Twigs

  • Twig terminal - Sitka spruce

Form

  • Hairless

Colour

  • Light grey to yellowish-brown
  • Lighter than the buds

Seed cones (mature)

  • Cone scale; outer surface with bract  (left), inner surface with winged seed (center), winged seed  and seed (below) - Sitka spruce

Form

  • Broadly cylindrical

Length

  • 5–10 cm

Colour

  • Scales yellow to light brown

Structure

  • Scales thin, brittle, loose-fitting
  • Elongated, broadest near the middle
  • Outer margin wavy, irregularly toothed
  • Bracts visible between open scales

Timing

  • Cones open in late autumn
  • Shed during the succeeding months

Seeds

Length

  • Seed 2–3 mm
  • Seed wing 5–8 mm

Colour

  • Reddish-brown

Bark

Form

  • Thin, broken into large, loose scales

Colour

  • Reddish-brown
  • Newly exposed bark rusty-grey

Wood

Texture

  • Light, soft, resilient
  • Relatively strong

Colour

  • Heartwood light pinkish-brown with gradual transition into a creamy-white sapwood

Uses

  • Wood pulp, lumber

Size

Height

  • To 55 m

Diameter

  • To 200 cm

Maximum age

  • 700–800 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - Sitka spruce

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Massive, often buttressed at the base

Crown

  • Rather open
  • Principal branches horizontal
  • Some secondary branches drooping
  • New shoots may develop along the trunk

Root system

Shallow, wide-spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Pacific Coast fog belt and along inlets and borders of streams inland for about 150 km to elevations of 500 m
  • Most abundant on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, and in northern coastal forests on deep, well-drained alluvial gravel

Associated species

  • Grows in pure stands, more often mixed with western hemlock, Douglas-fir, western redcedar, yellow-cedar, grand fir, red alder, and black cottonwood

Range

Coastal Alaska, British Columbia, southward into the United States

Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Sitka spruce
  • Sitka spruce
Distribution map
Distribution map - Sitka spruce
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