August 31st, 2016
Also known as Canadian Spruce, Skunk Spruce, Western White Spruce
White Spruce are large, long-lived trees, normally growing to be between 15 to 30 metres tall. Their bark is greyish-brown, thin, scaly and flakes off in small, circular plates. These trees have a narrow shape when compared to some other varieties of spruce. Their needles are short, sharp, square, and stiff and grow in a spiral pattern on the twigs. When the needles are young, they are whitish green and smell bad when crushed. Their cones are light brown to purplish, hang from the upper branches, open in the late summer or fall, and drop in the winter or spring. The scales that make up the cones have smooth, round edges.
Young seedlings need protection from the sun because they are susceptible to damage to their tissues caused by excessive sunlight – this is called Sun Scald. White Spruce are susceptible to Needle Rust, a disease that causes their needles to turn yellow and drop off in the fall. Needle Rust is mainly a cosmetic issue. They are also susceptible to spruce beetle, spruce sawfly, spruce gall aphid and white pine weevil, pine-needle scale, and are occasionally damaged by severe spider-mite infestations.
Best Care Practices
White Spruce do best in full sun and acidic soil, although they do have a high shade tolerance. They like well-drained, silty soil with some available moisture – they will not do well in very dry, very wet, or saline soil. To reduce the chance of Needle Rust, direct lawn sprinklers away from the tree to reduce moisture on needles, and plant spruce trees with adequate space between them to allow for air circulation. White Spruce generally don’t need to be pruned but if they develop more than one top (also called a leader), all but one top should be removed.
Interesting Facts about White Spruce
- White Spruce are native to North America and are the provincial tree of Manitoba.
- Their Latin name is Picea glauca.
- These trees are very important commercially in Canada as they provide excellent lumber and pulp.