White Spruce

Mature white spruce in Quebec, Canada

Attribution: By Daniel Dumais [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2009-05-13_EPB_mature_(02)_DDumais.jpg

Latin (group) name: Picea
Latin (specific) name: Picea Glauca (Moench) Voss
Average max height: 40' to 90'
Average diameter: 12" to 24"
Associated state: none
Category: American Woods
The Softwoods - Conifers

The Tree

White Spruce is one of the three spruces, red, white and black, all commonly called Eastern Spruce. Ordinarily the White Spruce is a shapely tree 40 to 90 feet tall and 12 to 24 inches in diameter, with many branches which droop downward from the trunk, then turn up to form a beautiful cone-shaped tree tapering to a long, sharp crown. The needles are four-angled, short, pointed and grow profusely around the twigs and curve upward around the branches. They are a dark blue-green and when bruised give off an offensive odor which has given the tree the name “Skunk” and “Cat Spruce.” The cones are from one to one and a half inches long and cylindrical, and when mature are a glossy, light-muddy-brown color. After the seeds are released most of the cones drop from the tree; a few cling on the branches until spring. The tree suffers greatly from forest fire, probably because of its resinous exudations or “bleeding” and its thin bark. Much damage also occurs from fungi and insect attacks, the most conspicuous being the European sawfiy and the spruce bud worm.

white spruce tree bark, thin and scaley
White Spruce tree bark, thin and scaley
white spruce male pollen cone
White Spruce male pollen cone

Common Names in Use

  • White Spruce (Vt., N.H., Mass., N.Y., Wis., Mich., Minn., Ont., and trade)
  • Bog Spruce (New Eng.)
  • Blue Spruce (Me.)
  • Adirondack Spruce (trade) Eng, Ontario)
  • Canadian Spruce
  • Cat Spruce (Me., New Eng.)
  • Double Spruce (Vt.)
  • Eastern Spruce (trade-in part)
  • Pine (Hudson Bay)
  • Spruce (Vt.)
  • Skunk Spruce (Wis., Me., New Eng., Ontario)
  • Single Spruce (Me., Vt., Minn.)

Growth Range

The growth range of White Spruce extends from Newfoundland and Labrador to Alaska, south to British Columbia, western Montana, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, eastward throughout the northeastern States. A variety of White Spruce is also found in scattered stands in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and northern Washington. White Spruce thrives best on moist, well drained soils and along the banks of streams.

The Wood

The wood of the White Spruce is very uniform in texture, pale yellowish-white, straight-grained, soft and light in weight. It is easy to work, free from pitch and takes a good finish. It nails easily and holds nails and screws very well. In seasoning it shrinks moderately.

white spruce wood
White Spruce, quarter-sawn and end grain


The White Spruce is a very important source of paper pulp because of the long fine quality of the fibers. The wood is also used for interior finish, boxes and crates, furniture, sash, doors, frames, dairy and poultry supplies, cabinets, general construction and is especially prized for sounding boards for musical instruments, canoe paddles and light oars.


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

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Page last modified on Tuesday October 15, 2019 19:48:59 PDT by admin.