Module 1: Introduction to Silviculture

Silvics of Black Spruce

SILVICS OF BLACK SPRUCE
(Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.)

Common names:
- bog spruce, swamp spruce, red spruce

Field identification aids:
- usually the only spruce growing in bogs or swamps
- grey-green to blue-green, blunt-pointed, four-cornered needles that can roll between your fingers
- usually the only spruce growing in bogs or swamps
- inner bark is olive green
- retains spherical brown cones for many years
- forms a definite clump of short branches at tip of crown. In older trees this clump carries numerous old cones
- brownish, hairy twigs; otherwise quite similar to those of red spruce

Average mature tree:
- 70 to 90 years old
- 9 m to 15 m (30' to 50') tall
- 15 cm to 25 cm (6" to 10") in diameter at breast height

Maximum life span:
- 200 years

Shade Tolerance:
- medium

Rooting:
- shallow, spreading root system

Windfirmness:
- shallow rooted and easily blown over

Reproduction:
- can reproduce through seed or by layering
- heavy cone drops every 4 years

Growing sites:
- ranges from wet to well drained sites
- best growth is on moist, well-drained loamy soils
- usually grows on poorly-drained soils

Associated species:
- white spruce and balsam fir on good sites
- on poor sites usually grows in pure stands or associated with tamarack

Principal damaging agents:
- spruce budworm, eastern dwarf mistletoe, European spruce sawfly

Notes:
- black spruce comprises 3.7 % of the merchantable volume in Nova Scotia
- interbreeds easily with red spruce and they are difficult to tell apart
- has sealed cones that require heat to open
- first conifer to establish after a fire

Quick ID:
Black spruce has a clump of short branches on top

 

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