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Trees of Iowa: An Interactive Key

Black Spruce
(Picea mariana)



The black spruce is not native to Iowa. It occurs in the northeastern United States, and Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; from the northern range of North America to Alaska, Yukon, and British Columbia eastward to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec and extending north all the way to the very limit of tree growth.

Hardiness: zones 1 through 6

Growth Rate:
Slow

Mature Shape:
Narrow pointed crown; straight trunk with little tapper; short, compact, and drooping branches

Height:
40-50 feet

Width:
15-30 feet

Site Requirements:
Thive in partial to full sun with neutral or acidic soil; can tolerate poorly drained soil.

Flowering Dates: May - June

Seed Dispersal Dates: Retains cones in a semiserotinous state

Seed Bearing Age: 10 years, but generally not in large quanities until 30 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Yearly, with bumper crops every four years

Seed Stratification: Warm stratification for 16 days at 68°F to 85°F

Grows in muskegs, bogs, barren and stony slopes, but makes its best living in well-drained bottomlands. It is also often referred to as “Swamp Spruce” or “Bog Spruce.”

The leaves are needle-like, bluish-green in color, blunt-pointed, ¼ to 3/8 inch in length, and with a whitish bloom when young. The cones are short and ovoid, and measure from ¾ to 1 inch in length. The bark is grayish-brown with thin scales. It is believed that red and black spruces hybridize, and some authorities consider the red and black spruces to be variations of a single species – there is also speculation that black spruce hybridizes with white spruce, but not verified.

It is primary used for paper pulp and Christmas trees, and secondarily for spruce beer and spruce gum in the northern regions.

 

Click on a thumbnail image below to view a larger picture.
Black Spruce Bark Black Spruce Form Black Spruce Fruit Black Spruce Leaves