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Red Spruce Picea rubens


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Red Spruce, habit
credit: bobistraveling/CCSA

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Family: Pinaceae, Pine view all from this family

Description Tall to medium-sized long-lived evergreen coniferous tree. Crown narrow conic. Branches horizontal, spreading. Needles yellow-green, 12–15 mm. long, four-sided, curved, sharp point, extending from all sides of twig. Bark thin, scaly, gray-brown with red-brown inside. Cones cylindrical, 3–5 cm. long, with glossy red-brown color, stiff scales. Cones hang down from branches.

Dimensions Height: 15-24 m. (50-80 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3-0.6 m. (1-2 ft.).

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Mountains.

Range New England, Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast.

Discussion Red Spruce is one of two primary tree types in the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest, a distinct ecosystem found only in the highest elevations of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Used for Christmas trees and is important in making paper pulp. An excellent tonewood; used in many higher-end acoustic guitars, fiddles, and pianos. The light weight, strong unknotted wood was sought for ship building. Used in the construction of the Wright Brothers airplanes. Sap used to make spruce gum. Leafy twigs boiled as part spruce beer recipe. As a result of popularity, only a small, fragmented portion of the original forests remain. Restoration efforts are underway.