Spruce refers to trees of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from 20–60 (–95) m tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form. The needles, or leaves, of spruce trees are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion, each needle on a small peg-like structure called a sterigmata. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained sterigmata (an easy means of distinguishing them from other similar genera, where the branches are fairly smooth).
The word "spruce" derives from an obsolete term for Prussia.
2 Cones with thickish wavy scales, leaves slightly to strongly flattened: section Omorika
3 Cones with very thin, wavy scales: section 'Casicta'
Spruces are also 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.
Spruce wood, often called whitewood, is used for many purposes, ranging from general construction work and crates to highly specialised uses in wooden aircraft and many musical instruments, including guitars, mandolins, cellos, violins, and the soundboard at the heart of a piano. The Wright Brothers first aircraft was built of spruce.
The resin was used in the manufacture of pitch in the past (before the use of petrochemicals); the scientific name Picea is generally thought to be derived from Latin pix, pitch (though other etymologies have been suggested).
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. Native Americans in eastern North America once used 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. Native Americans in New England also used the sap to make a gum which was used for various reasons.
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 preventative measure for scurvy in an environment where meat is the only prominent food source.
Spruce branches are also used at Aintree racecourse, Liverpool, to build several of the fences on the Grand National course.
A hierarchical analysis of stand structure, composition, and burn patterns as indicators of stand age in an Engelmann spruce--subalpine fir forest.
May 01, 2007; Abstract: We studied the relationship between observed fire effects and stand age in a recently burned subalpine Engelmann spruce...
NATIONAL PARKS FEEL GLOBAL WARMING IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN, THE ENGELMANN SPRUCE IS CROWDING OUT TUNDRA SPECIES, REPORT SAYS.(News/ National/ International)
Jun 25, 1997; Byline: John Brinkley Rocky Mountain News Washington Bureau WASHINGTON -- Global warming has begun to harm national parks,...
Small-mammal response to group-selection silvicultural systems in Engelmann spruce--subalpine fir forests 14 years postharvest.(Report)
Sep 01, 2009; Introduction Meeting biodiversity and sustainability objectives is important in directing forest-management activities across a...
Taxonomy and origin of present-day morphometric variation in Picea glauca (xengelmannii) seed-cone scales in North America.
Jul 01, 2006; Abstract: White spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm.) seed-cones from 676...