Silvics of White Spruce

Picea glauca (Moench) Voss)

Common names:
- pasture spruce, skunk spruce, cat spruce

Field identification aids:
- blue-green, sharp-pointed, four-cornered needles that can roll between your fingers
- crushed needles have a rank odour similar to cat urine
- hairless twigs
- occurs commonly in old fields
- has thick branches that extend to ground
- inside bark is silvery white

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

Maximum life span:
- 200 years

Shade tolerance:
- intolerant

- shallow and wide-spreading

- moderately windfirm on most Nova Scotian sites

- reproduces by seeds
- tree may begin to produce seed when approximately 30 years old, with full production around 60 years
- good seed crop production every 2 to 6 years
- best seed germination occurs on well to moderately-drained soil

Associated species:
- black spruce and balsam fir on poorly-drained sites
- white birch and trembling aspen on well-drained sites

Growing sites:
- range from well drained to moderately-drained soils
- optimum growth is on moist, well-drained, sandy soils
- usually found on moderately-drained sandy loams

Principal damaging agents:
- spruce budworm, spruce beetle, eastern dwarf mistletoe, and porcupines

- white spruce comprises 7.2% of the merchantable volume in Nova Scotia
- commonly found on old pasture land and has thick live branches that extend to the ground
- fastest growing spruce native to Nova Scotia
- usually selected as the Christmas tree sent to Boston each year, but has an unpleasant odour and needles drop quickly once cut

Quick ID:
White spruce has sharp needles 'Spruce is Sharp'

Return to Tree Identification