Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Picea mariana

Black spruce, Spruce fir

Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Picea mariana (Black spruce)
Hampton, Nan
Black spruce is a very narrow, spire-like tree, growing 30-60 ft. tall with a limited spread. Descending branches, with dark, bluish-green needles, have upturned ends. Lower limbs sweep the ground. Tree with open, irregular, conical crown of short, horizontal or slightly drooping branches; a prostrate shrub at timberline.

Black Spruce is one of the most widely distributed conifers in North America. Uses are similar to those of White Spruce (Picea glauca); however, the small size limits lumber production. The lowest branches take root by layering when deep snows bend them to the ground, forming a ring of small trees around a large one. Spruce gum and spruce beer were made from this species and Red Spruce.

Image Gallery:

11 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Purple, Brown
Size Class: 72-100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AK , CT , IL , ME , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VT , WI
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NT , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Lab. & Nf. to the Yukon Valley, s. in mts. to PA, c. WI, c. MN & B.C.
Native Habitat: Peat bogs; floodplains; swamps

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet to mesic, acidic soils.
Conditions Comments: An extremely slow grower. Shallow root system makes this tree susceptible to wind throw. Some disease and insect problems. A cold-climate tree, restricted in the southern part of its range to cold sphagnum bogs. The Alaska variety is less than 30 ft. tall and often shrubby.


Use Wildlife: Twigs, leaves and seeds are important wildlife food. Very valuable as nesting sites for birds.
Use Other: Long wood fibres of black spruce are most commonly used for pulpwood, especially for producing high quality papers. A thing of the past now is the gathering of spruce gum, by gummers on snowshoes, carrying long poles fitted with chisels to knock off the resinous exudations. In the old lumber camps, spruce gum was the chewing gum. (Peattie)
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth, Bog Elfin butterfly (Callophrys lanoraieensis).

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Picea mariana is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Bog Elfin
(Callophrys lanoraieensis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
(Microtia elva)

Larval Host
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Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2013-10-27