Scientific Name: Picea (genus)
- Order: Pinales
- Family: Pinaceae
- Genus: Picea
Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, spruce trees are common evergreen conifers that can grow up to 200 feet tall (about 60 meters). Containing 35 species, the spruce genus is part of the Pinaceae, or pine, family, which includes firs and pine trees.
Often confused with each other, pines, firs, and spruces are actually quite different. Pine needles cluster together at points on the branch, while spruce and fir needles grow one-by-one along the branch.
- prickly, brittle needles
- cones hang downward
- oval-shaped cones
- flat, blunt, flexible needles
- cones stand up
- cone-shaped cones
Another important characteristic and tell-tale sign of spruce trees is the “pegs.” Spruce needles grow out of these pegs, and they remain even after the needles have fallen, giving the branch a rough surface.
Spruce trees are significant in four industries:
- Paper: Spruce wood has long fibers, which makes strong paper.
- Construction: Spruce timber is utilized in the construction of watercraft and aircraft. In fact, spruce wood was used to make the Wright brothers’ first airplane.
- Music: Spruce can also be found in musical instruments, such as pianos, violins, guitars, and harps.
- Holidays: Spruce trees have a certain symmetry that makes them beautiful Christmas trees!
BONUS: Spruce needles are also a source of vitamin C and can be eaten raw or made into tea.