Silvics of Red Spruce

(Picea rubens Sarg.)

Common names:
-  yellow spruce, Maritime spruce

Field identification aids:
- bright yellow-green, blunt, four-cornered needles that can roll between your fingers (needles are usually longer than those on black spruce)
- reddish bark on young trees orange-brown and slightly hairy twigs
- Large broad crown, with right angled branches that curve upward near the ends
- red and black spruce interbreed and are often difficult to tell apart

Average mature tree:
-  80 to 100 years old
-  21 m to 26 m (70' to 86') tall
-  30 cm to 60 cm (12" to 24") in diameter at breast height

Maximum life span
-  200 - 400 years

Shade tolerance:
-  very tolerant

-  shallow and widespread

-  only moderately windfirm on most Nova Scotian sites, susceptible to wind damage

- reproduces by seed
- tree may begin to produce seed when 20 to 30 years old, with full crop production usually after 45 years
- good cone crops every 3 to 8 years
- best germination occurs on a moist mixture of mineral soil and humus
- poor germination on thick duff

Growing sites:
-  range from well-drained to poorly drained
-  best growth is on well -drained, acidic sandy soil
-  usually found on moderately drained soils

Associated species:
- black spruce, balsam fir, tamarack, and red maple on poorly drained sites
- sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, and balsam fir on well drained sites
- often found in pure stands

Principle damaging agents:
-  spruce budworm, spruce bark beetle, brown spruce longhorn beetle, porcupines

- red spruce comprise 22.8% of the merchantable volume in Nova Scotia
- the most valuable lumber and pulpwood species in Nova Scotia
-  Nova Scotia’s provincial tree

Quick ID:
Red spruce branches curve upwards

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