Trees - White Spruce (Picea glauca)

White Spruce
General Appearance
  • Is a large conifer with a uniform conical-shaped crown.
  • Bark is rough and scaly and is brownish to silvery grey in colour.
  • Can grow to 45 metres (147.64 feet) in height.
  • Pollen cones (male) are small and yellow.
  • Seed cones (female) bud from the ends of young twigs; they droop and turn brown at maturity, growing to four to five centimetres (1.57 to 1.97 inches) in length.
  • Scales are thin and somewhat rounded with smooth margins.
  • Seeds are thin and winged.
White Spruce needles and bark
  • Leaves are needle-like, stiff and sharp-pointed and four sided.
  • Colour ranges from blue-green to bright green.
  • Length is about 2.5 to 3.0 centimetres (0.98 to 1.18 inches).
  • Has widespread distribution throughout south-central and northern Alberta and is found in all four of Alberta's forest regions: aspen parkland, boreal, montane and lower elevations in the subalpine where it commonly hybridizes with Engelmann spruce.
  • Will succeed aspen poplar and pine trees in burned-over areas.
Natural History

  • Most often found in mixed forested areas.
  • Grows best in well drained, clay loam to silty soils with adequate access to moisture, though this species has adapted to growth on somewhat dry or poorly drained soils as well.
  • Has an intermediate tolerance to shaded conditions and is tolerant of acidic soils.
Reproduction and Growth
  • White spruce seeds are not viable for much more than two years, and the tree relies on annual seed production to regenerate.
  • Seeds are wind dispersed, and usually fall within 100 metres (328 feet) of the source tree.
  • Is a relatively long-lived tree among Alberta species, with a lifespan ranging from 50 to 250 years.
Conservation and Management

White spruce is classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

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This information published to the web on March 30, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 16, 2018.