Monday, January 31, 2011

Picea sitchensis - Sitka Spruce

Picea sitchensis: Picea rom the Latin 'pix' for 'pitch,' referring to the spruce's resin, which was used in the manufacture of pitch before the use of petrochemicals; sitchensis, named for Sitka, Alaska, where this tree grows native.

Evergreen. Native to coastal mountains from sea level to 3,000' elevation from British Columbia to northern California. Tallest of the spruces, and a valuable forest tree in the northwest. Grows in loose, acidic soils with high rainfall in temperate coastal areas. Tolerates wet soils and salt spray.

Grows to 160+' with a 40' spread, developing a tall, open, conical crown, a broad base, upswept branches, and a narrow to tapered top, more bushy and less upright near windswept coastlines.

View from below.

1"needles are stiff, bristly, bright green with bluish to grayish green new growth, with prickly ends, somewhat flattened and indistinctly 4-angled, standing straight out evenly and completely around branchlets.

Pendulous cones are light brown, oblong-elliptical, 2-4" long, with thin, toothed, somewhat undulating, papery scales, maturing in one season and falling in winter.

Open, mature cone.

Bark is thin, scaly, gray-brown on younger trees, becoming deep reddish brown with large, flat easily detached scales. Wood is highly valued for strength and is used in making violins for its resonant qualities.


  1. Thank you so much for your great blog! Very complete and helpful. I work in Southeast AK with tourists in the Tongass. Would you be ok with me using some of your images in Powerpoint presentations? Many thanks!

    1. With credit given to you, of course!