Thursday, October 7, 2010

Picea engelmanii - Englemann's Spruce

Picea engelmanii: Picea from the Latin 'pix' for 'pitch,' referring to the spruce's resin, which was used in the manufacture of pitch before the use of petrochemicals; engelmanii for George Engelmann, a German-American botanist who described the flora of the North American west.

Evergreen. Native to southwestern Canada, Oregon, and extreme northern California east to the Rocky Mountains.

Growth rate moderate to fast to 60-130' tall and 20-25' wide, with a tall pyramidal form in youth with upward-arching horizontal branches, becoming round-topped with age, with drooping branches, from a rather large buttressed trunk.

Needles are dark-green to bluish-green, 1 to 1 1/18" long, occasionally with glaucous white bloom. Bluntly pointed ends are not sharp, and needles are somewhat flexible, with no visible resin ducts on the surfaces. Needles are also four-sided and can be rolled between the fingers.

Fallen needles leave small pegs where they were attached along the branch, as is common to the Picea genus.

Pendulous cones are oblong to cylindrical, sessile or short-stalked, with slighly wavy and elongated, flexible, papery scales, with irregular end margins, maturing in fall of the first season to a light brown and falling shortly thereafter.

Bark is fairly thin and reddish brown, becoming grayish and broken into large, thin, loosely attached scales.

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