Spruce facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsSpruces
|Norway Spruce (Picea abies)|
Spruces are large trees, from 20–60 (–95) m tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their conical form and their needles, that are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old.
- Picea abies Norway Spruce. Europe; important in forestry. The original Christmas tree.
- Picea asperata Dragon Spruce. Western China; several varieties.
- Picea meyeri Meyer's Spruce. Northern China.
- Picea koraiensis Korean Spruce. Korea, northeast China.
- Picea koyamae Koyama's Spruce. Japan (mountains).
Thirty-five named species of spruce exist in the world. The Plant List has 59 accepted spruce names.
|Clade I||Northern and western North America, in boreal forests or high mountains||Picea breweriana||Brewer's spruce||Klamath Mountains, North America; local endemic|
|Picea sitchensis||Sitka spruce||Pacific coast of North America; the largest species, to 95 m tall; important in forestry|
|Picea engelmannii||Engelmann spruce||western North American mountains; important in forestry|
|Picea glauca||white spruce||northern North America; important in forestry|
|Clade II||Throughout Asia, mostly in mountainous areas, a few isolated populations in higher elevations of Mexico||Picea brachytyla||Sargent's spruce||southwest China|
|Picea chihuahuana||Chihuahua spruce||northwest Mexico (rare)|
|Picea farreri||Burmese spruce||northeast Burma, southwest China (mountains)|
|Picea likiangensis||Likiang spruce||southwest China|
|Picea martinezii||Martinez spruce||northeast Mexico (very rare, endangered)|
|Picea maximowiczii||Maximowicz spruce||Japan (rare, mountains)|
|Picea morrisonicola||Taiwan spruce||Taiwan (high mountains)|
|Picea neoveitchii||Veitch's spruce||northwest China (rare, endangered)|
|Picea orientalis||Caucasian spruce or Oriental spruce||Caucasus, northeast Turkey|
|Picea purpurea||purple cone spruce||western China|
|Picea schrenkiana||Schrenk's spruce||mountains of central Asia|
|Picea smithiana||morinda spruce||western Himalaya, eastern Afghanistan, northern and northwest India|
|Picea spinulosa||Sikkim spruce||northeast India (Sikkim), eastern Himalaya|
|Picea torano||tiger-tail spruce||Japan|
|Picea wilsonii||Wilson's spruce||western China|
|Clade III||Europe, Asia, and North America, mostly in boreal forests or mountainous areas||Picea abies||Norway spruce||Europe; important in forestry, the original Christmas tree|
|Picea alcoquiana – ("P. bicolor")||Alcock's spruce||central Japan (mountains)|
|Picea asperata||dragon spruce||western China; several varieties|
|Picea crassifolia||Qinghai spruce||China|
|Picea glehnii||Glehn's spruce||northern Japan, Sakhalin|
|Picea jezoensis||Jezo spruce||northeast Asia, Kamchatka south to Japan|
|Picea koraiensis||Korean spruce||Korea, northeast China|
|Picea koyamae||Koyama's spruce||Japan (mountains)|
|Picea mariana||black spruce||northern North America|
|Picea meyeri||Meyer's spruce||northern China (from Inner Mongolia to Gansu)|
|Picea obovata||Siberian spruce||north Scandinavia, Siberia; often treated as a variant of P. abies (and hybridises with it), but has distinct cones)|
|Picea omorika||Serbian spruce||Serbia and Bosnia; local endemic; important in horticulture|
|Picea pungens||blue spruce or Colorado spruce||Rocky Mountains, North America; important in horticulture|
|Picea retroflexa||green dragon spruce||China|
|Picea rubens||red spruce||northeastern North America; important in forestry, known as Adirondack in musical-instrument making|
Spruce is useful as a building wood, commonly referred to by several different names including North American timber, SPF (spruce, pine, fir) and whitewood (the collective name for spruce wood). Spruce wood is used for many purposes, ranging from general construction work and crates to highly specialised uses in wooden aircraft. The Wright brothers' first aircraft, the Flyer, was built of spruce.
Because this species has no insect or decay resistance qualities after logging, it is generally recommended for construction purposes as indoor use only (indoor drywall framing, for example). Spruce wood, when left outside cannot be expected to last more than 12–18 months depending on the type of climate it is exposed to.
Spruce is one of the most important woods for paper uses, as it has long wood fibres which bind together to make strong paper. The fibres are thin walled and collapse to thin bands upon drying. Spruces are commonly used in mechanical pulping as they are easily bleached. Together with northern pines, northern spruces are commonly used to make NBSK. Spruces are cultivated over vast areas as pulpwood.
Food and medicine
The fresh shoots of many spruces are a natural source of vitamin C. Captain Cook made alcoholic sugar-based spruce beer during his sea voyages in order to prevent scurvy in his crew. The leaves and branches, or the essential oils, can be used to brew spruce beer.
The tips from the needles can be used to make spruce tip syrup . In survival situations spruce needles can be directly ingested or boiled into a tea. This replaces large amounts of vitamin C. Also, water is stored in a spruce's needles, providing an alternative means of hydration . Spruce can be used as a preventive measure for scurvy in an environment where meat is the only prominent food source .
Spruce is the standard material used in soundboards for many musical instruments, including guitars, mandolins, cellos, violins, and the soundboard at the heart of a piano and the harp. Wood used for this purpose is referred to as tonewood.
The resin was used in the manufacture of pitch in the past (before the use of petrochemicals); the scientific name Picea derives from Latin picea "pitch pine" (referring to Scots pine), from piceus, an adjective from pix "pitch".
Native Americans in North America use the thin, pliable roots of some species for weaving baskets and for sewing together pieces of birch bark for canoes. See also Kiidk'yaas for an unusual golden Sitka Spruce sacred to the Haida people.
Spruces are popular ornamental trees in horticulture, admired for their evergreen, symmetrical narrow-conic growth habit. For the same reason, some (particularly Picea abies and P. omorika) are also extensively used as Christmas trees, with artificial Christmas trees often being produced in their likenesses.
Spruce branches are also used at Aintree racecourse, Liverpool, to build several of the fences on the Grand National course. It is also used to make sculptures.
Images for kids
Pulvini remain after the needles fall (white spruce, Picea glauca).
Manually decorticated trunk of a spruce as protection against bark beetles
In Spanish: Picea para niños
Spruce Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.