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White Spruce

(Picea glauca)

The white spruce reaches 60-80 feet with a wide crown (top). Lower branches curve upward from the trunk. You'll find the white spruce living in Wisconsin's northern forests in moist well-drained soils and in swamps with balsam and tamarack trees. You might see some growing along with hardwoods.

White Spruce

White spruce bark is thin with light brown scaly plates. The leaves on this evergreen are short (1/2-3/4 inch) four-sided needles that are crowded along the upper-half of the branchlets. The needles are sharply pointed and dark bluish-green in color when the tree is mature. Take a needle and crush it in your fingers, you should smell a slightly disagreeable odor. The fruit is a slender 2-inch cone that is light brown when ripe. Cones usually drop during winter after opening and losing their seeds in fall. Seeds are 1/8-1/6 inches long, pale brown, and winged.

The white spruce's wood is strong and yellow-white in color. It is used in manufacturing many products, most importantly paper. Larger trees are sawed into lumber for airplanes, furniture parts, canoe paddles and sounding boards for musical instruments. People like to plant them in their lawn for windbreaks. They are also a favorite holiday tree. Unfortunately, the spruce budworm has caused a lot of damage to this species in Wisconsin. In swampy areas the spruce and tamarack provide cover for northern wildlife—moose, deer, lynx, and bobcats. Dead branches that fall become homes for the shrew, garter snake, and four-toed salamander.