Engelmann spruce

Picea engelmannii
Engelmann spruce Engelmann spruce

A straight tree with a spire-like crown that can reach 50 metres tall and 1 metre in diameter when mature. Branches near the ground tend to droop.

Engelmann spruce leaves

Needles are four-sided and sharp but not particularly stiff. They are deep bluish-green with two white bands on both the upper and lower surfaces. The needles are arranged in all directions on the twigs.

Seed cones are yellow to purplish-brown and hang from the upper branches. Their papery seed scales are tapered at both ends and have a ragged outer edge. Pollen cones are most commonly yellow to purplish-brown.

Engelmann spruce cone
Engelmann spruce bark Bark
The bark is loose, scaly, and reddish-brown to grey.

Where to find Engelmann spruce
It occurs at high elevations throughout the Interior and along the east slope of the Coast Range. It has been successfully introduced into high-elevation plantations on the west side of the Coast Range and on Vancouver Island.

Engelmann spruce commonly occurs with subalpine fir in areas with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. It grows best on deep, rich soils with adequate moisture.

In drier areas, Engelmann spruce grows with lodgepole pine. The forest floor is often carpeted with grouseberry and mountain arnica. On wetter sites, huckleberries, white-flowered rhododendron, and Sitka valerian commonly occur.

Mule deer are plentiful and birds such as grouse, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and thrushes breed in these subalpine forests.

Where to find Engelmann spruce
Aboriginal people living in the Interior used peeled, split, and soaked spruce root to sew the seams of bark baskets. The Interior Salish and Athapaskan peoples used the split roots to make tightly woven coiled baskets.

Sheets of spruce bark were made into cooking baskets and canoes. The bark was used by the Thompson people for roofing and by the Lillooet people for baby carriers.

Engelmann spruce lumber is used for construction when great strength is not required. Rotary cut spruce veneer is used in manufacturing plywood. Specialty items such as violins, pianos, and aircraft parts are produced from Engelmann spruce.

Engelmann spruce interbreeds with white spruce in areas where their ranges overlap.

It was named for George Engelmann (1809-1884), a German physician and botanist.

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