Picea glauca (Moench) Voss 
Plant Symbol = PIGL 
Additional Information

Alternative Names 

Canada spruce, skunk spruce, cat spruce, single spruce, western white spruce (var. albertiana, Canadian Rocky Mts.), Porsild spruce (var. porsildii, Alaska), Black Hills spruce (var. densata, South Dakota); synonyms: Picea alba (Aiton) Link; Picea canadensis (Miller) B.S.P. 


General: Pine Family (Pinaceae). Native trees grows to 25 (-50) meters tall, the crown broadly conic to spire-like, or the plants sometimes shrub-like near treeline; branches slightly drooping; twigs not pendent, slender, pinkish-brown, without hairs. Bark is gray-brown, thin scaly. Needles are evergreen, borne singly from all sides of the twig but often crowded on the upper side, (0.8-) 1.5-2 (-2.5) cm long, blue-green, 4-angled, often inwardly curved, stiff, sharp-pointed. Seed cones are light brown at maturity, 2.5-6 (-8) cm long, ellipsoid, pendent; cone scales fan-shaped, soft and flexible, the tip smooth-edged and extending 0.5-3 mm beyond seed-wing impression. The common name is derived from the white waxy layer on the foliage. 


 3/4 to 1 inch long, blue-green, four-angled with whitish lines on all sides;

 Rigid, pointed, but not sharp to the touch;

 Usually crowded on upper side of the branch.


 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches long, light brown;

 Narrowly oblong, nearly stalkless, hanging down;

 Scales thin and flexible with smooth margins.


 Thin, scaly to smooth;

 Gray-brown, with white inner bark.

Size at maturity and life span

 40 to 70 feet tall, 6 to 18 inches in diameter;

 Reaches 80 to 115 feet tall, 30 inches in diameter;

 Tree crown, narrow or spire-like;

 Can live an age of 250 to 300 years.

Habitat and distribution

 From sea level to tree line on a wide variety of habitats;

 Throughout southcentral and interior Alaska east through Canada to Atlantic Ocean, from the northern tree line south to the Great Lakes.


The wood of white spruce is used primarily for pulpwood and lumber for various construction, prefab houses, mobile homes, furniture, boxes and crates, and pallets. It also is used for house logs, musical instruments, and paddles. Because of its wide geographic range and abundance, it is (de facto) highly significant for food and cover of many wildlife species, for soil stability, watershed value, and recreation. It was historically important for food, shelter, medicine, fuel, and other uses by American Indians. White spruce is the provincial tree of Manitoba and the state tree of South Dakota. White spruce is much used in some areas for Christmas trees and is a good ornamental and shade tree. 

White Spruce

Adaptation: In muskegs, bogs, and river banks, to montane slopes; at 0-1000 (-2100) meters elevation. White spruce is a dominant tree of interior forests in Canada and Alaska and often an early colonizer in succession. White spruce co-occurs with black spruce (Picea mariana) over a wide range – the two species have evolved a complex competitive relationship (habitat partitioning) involving contrasts in water tolerance, vegetative reproduction, flowering times, and rate of early growth. Picea glauca grows best on well-drained mineral soils with deep or no permafrost, while P. mariana is more tolerant of sites with flooding, permafrost, and high soil acidity. 

White spruce hybridizes with Sitka spruce where their ranges overlap, forming Lutz spruce, Picea xlutzii. It shows characteristics intermediate between the two parent trees.