Black spruce

Picea mariana
Black spruce Black spruce

A small, slow-growing tree, up to 20 metres tall and 25 centimetres in diameter. It often has a characteristic cluster of branches at the top forming a club or crow's nest.

Black spruce leaves

Needles are blue-green, short, stiff, and four-sided. The needles are arranged in all directions along the twig or mostly pointing upwards.

Seed cones are small and purplish. The old cones hang on the tree for several years. Pollen cones are dark red.

Black spruce cone
Black spruce bark Bark
The bark is thin, scaly and dark greenish-brown.

Where to find black spruce
It grows throughout the northern part of the province.

Black spruce tolerates poor growing conditions. It often occurs in pure groups of trees or with lodgepole pine and white spruce. It is frequently found in cold, poorly drained areas, such as swamps and bogs, along with sphagnum mosses and horsetails. Lingonberry and Labrador tea are also plentiful.

Black spruce forests are rich in wildlife. Moose, muskrat, and mink are numerous and many birds eat the abundant insects in these wet, boggy areas.

Where to find black spruce
The Carrier people used black spruce wood to make fish traps. Other aboriginal people made snowshoe frames and drying racks. They also used powdered resin on wounds to speed healing.Caution

The long fibres in black spruce make this a preferred pulp species for paper products

The name mariana means "of Maryland." Phillip Miller, who named the species, felt that Maryland epitomized North America - but the species does not actually grow there!

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