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Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.
Black spruce, Spruce fir
Synonym(s): Picea mariana var. mariana
USDA Symbol: pima
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.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WI Canada: AB
, YT Native Distribution:
Lab. & Nf. to the Yukon Valley, s. in mts. to PA,
& B.C. Native Habitat:
Peat bogs; floodplains; swamps
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Wet 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.
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:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Columbia silkmoth, Bog Elfin butterfly (Callophrys lanoraieensis).
PropagationDescription: Seeds of most Picea species germinate promptly without pretreatment. Cuttings root in low percentages.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Pretreatment of most Picea species is not necessary, but cold stratification has been used for some of the species.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
Record Last Modified: 2013-10-27
Research By: TWC Staff