Red spruce

Silhouette - red spruce
  • Latin name: Picea rubens Sarg.
  • French name: Épinette rouge
  • Synonym(s): Yellow spruce , he-balsam , eastern spruce
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 18034
Description

Leaves

  • Needle and needle cross section - red spruce

Form

  • Curved, blunt-pointed
  • Needles pointing forward, often pressed close to the twig

Length

  • 10–16 mm

Colour

  • Shiny yellowish-green
  • Lines of faint white dots usually present on all sides

Buds

Form

  • Conical
  • Shiny or slightly resinous
  • Outer scales hairy, narrow, with long slender points projecting beyond the tip of the bud

Colour

  • Chestnut-brown

Twigs

  • Twig terminal with detail of conical twig hairs - red spruce

Form

  • Hairs on twig narrowly conical
  • In the 2nd year, leaf-cushions rounded
  • Grooves V-shaped

Colour

  • Shiny, yellow or yellowish-orange, with a brown stain at the base of the leaf-peg
  • In the 2nd year, reddish-brown

Seed cones (immature)

Form

  • Ovoid, blunt-pointed

Structure

  • Scales stiff, lightly striated
  • Margin firm, smooth or slightly rough

Seed cones (mature)

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

Form

  • Abruptly tapered to a very short stalk
  • Open cones broadly ovoid

Length

  • 3–5 cm

Colour

  • Rich chocolate-brown

Structure

  • Scales wide-spreading, easily separated from the axis

Timing

  • Cones open in autumn, usually shed during the following year

Seeds

Length

  • Seed 2 mm
  • Seed wing 3–5 mm

Colour

  • Seed dark brown

Bark

Form

  • Shredded when young, separating into scales or plates with age
  • Dark and furrowed at maturity

Colour

  • Reddish-brown, becoming reddish-black with age
  • Newly exposed bark dull yellow or reddish-brown

Size

Height

  • To 25 m, occasionally larger

Diameter

  • To 60 cm

Maximum age

  • 300 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - red spruce

Forest-grown

Crown

  • Broadly conical, rather open
  • Principal branches about 3 m long in the lower part of the crown, with a flat non-bushy appearance, sloping downward
  • Tips abruptly upturned

Habitat

Site

  • Mature forests on moist upland sites
  • In Ontario and Quebec, found on cool moist sites such as north-facing slopes and lake shores

Light tolerance

  • Very shade-tolerant, surviving as an understory tree for many years

Associated species

  • Eastern white pine, balsam fir, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, and sugar maple

Range

Maritime provinces, southward into the Appalachian Mountains of the United States; present but uncommon in south-central Ontario and in Quebec north of the St. Lawrence River

Insects and diseases

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

Photos
  • Red spruce
  • Red spruce
  • Red spruce
  • Red spruce
  • Red spruce
  • Red spruce
Distribution map
Distribution map - red spruce
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