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White SprucePicea glauca

  • White Spruce - Picea glauca
  • White Spruce - Picea glauca
  • White Spruce - Picea glauca

This tree has often been heralded as a beautiful tree, whether lining the banks of a North Country river or gracing someone’s front yard. But the white spruce is more than just a pretty face. Commercially it, it is a mainstay of the pulp and paper industry and well-used for construction lumber. In landscape, it is a lovely specimen tree or grouping, a sturdy option for windbreaks and buffer strips, and serves as a great visual screen.


Hardiness Zones

The white spruce can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2–6. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The white spruce grows to a height of 40–60' and a spread of 10–20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The white spruce grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It has some drought tolerance.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Transplants readily.
  • Can withstand wind, heat, cold, drought, crowding and some shade.
  • Works well in cities and rural windbreaks.
  • Is widely used as a Christmas tree.
  • Features slightly curved, pale green needles that are roughly ½–¾" in length and crowded on the upper side of the stem.
  • Yields slender, cylindrical cones that are light brown in color and 1½–2½" long with flexible scales.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape, becoming more columnar with age.

Wildlife Value

Besides providing nesting sites and shelter, white spruces provide food for many kinds of wildlife. Crossbills, evening grosbeaks and red-breasted nuthatches prefer the seeds. The foliage is eaten by grouse, rabbits and deer. Red squirrels cut open cones to eat the seeds, and they feast upon young, tender spruce shoots. The bark is enjoyed by both porcupines and black bears, sometimes to the detriment of the trees.

History/Lore

When Jacques Cartier sailed up the broad St. Lawrence River in 1535, he became the first European to see North America’s white spruces. As he laid claim to the lands he beheld, he proclaimed them to be “as beautiful…as one could wish for.” The trees, he said, were “the finest trees in the world.”