Ed Golson Outdoor Education

white spruce

Scientific Name: Picea glauca

Description: The white spruce, along with its close relative the black spruce, is one of the most common coniferous trees in North America. All spruce trees, unlike pine trees, have needles that are square instead of round. The needles of spruces are also attached to short woody projections of twigs instead of the twigs themselves.  

The white spruce often grows to a size of approximately 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It takes a long time to reach that height, though, because this tree grows slower than most. Its bark is thin, scaly, and dark gray in color. The needles of the white spruce are quite short, usually only slightly more than half an inch long. 

The cousin of the white spruce, the black spruce, is also quite common in Michigan. The two species look similar, but there are a couple of ways to tell the difference. For starters, the twigs of black spruce have tiny hairs on them whereas the twigs of other spruce are smooth. Also, the needles of the white spruce are often nearly twice as long as those of the black spruce. Another way to tell them apart is by looking at their cones. The cones of black spruce are only about an inch long while the cones of other spruce are much longer.

Another relative of the white spruce is the blue spruce which is often found as decoration in people's yards. These trees are not native to Michigan, however, and rarely occur in the wild. Blue spruce were brought here from places west of the Rocky Mountains.

White spruce tree are found in many different types of wooded habitats , but they do best in wetter areas such as bogs .

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