Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.
Black Spruce, Spruce Fir
Pinaceae (Pine Family)
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Fruit: Purple, Brown
Size Class: 72-100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AK , CT , IL , MA , ME , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VT , WI
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , 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 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.
BenefitUse 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)
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Columbia silkmoth |
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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
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Picea mariana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Picea mariana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Picea mariana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-10-27
Research By: TWC Staff