SprucePicea abies

Conifer of the family Pinacées (Cedar, Norway Spruce, Larch, Pine, Fir, Tsuga)

Etymology: from Latin "Picea", "tree with resin", coming from the root Indo-European peak, "bitter"; the "pitch" comes from Latin "Pix".
Origin: spruces are rather widely spread:
Habitat: overshadeed, humid. Slowly decomposing litter provides an acid humus unfavorable to planting. The spruce is well adapted to calcareous soils, such as the Jura, where the rock is shallow and thin soil, while the fir would not settle there (it needs deep soil).
Hardiness: zone 7. The spruce resists cold (until -17 ° or - 4°F) and supports altitude.
Height:30 m, or even unusually 50 m tall.
Form (insulated tree): see table below.
Lifespan: 500 years.
Bark shedding in scales ruddy reddish-brown with grey.
Persistent foliage. Needles from 2 to 3 cm, quadrangular, prickly, arranged in brush on the stem, on protuberant cushions.
Legends and traditions: In Greek mythology, the spruce is devoted to Artemis, goddess of the Moon and of the wild, protective life of the women which it assists deliveries: the spruce is the tree of birth. This tradition is taken back by the Christians: the spruce is linked to the birth of Jesus, which is celebrated on December 24th, date of solstice and revival of the sun. It is in Alsace where appears the "Christmas tree", which was often a spruce branch. This tradition is introduced into France in 1870. Today, Abies nordmanniana is most appreciated for this usage.
Uses: the spruce is the conifer most spread in Europe and one of the tree most used for reforestation. However, the spruce does not favour its environment : the undergrowth and the ecosystem rich in invertebrates and vegetation is impoverished in the forests of spruces. Violent storm in late 1999 in France destroyed a lot of spruces and tendency returned towards more deciduous and resinous mix. Its wood, of low density, but resistant, easy to be worked, is favourable for jobs of carpentry because of the regularity of the trunk. It is used to make tables resonance instruments. This requires trees grown slowly, evenly and regularly.
Spruce also provides a soft paste with long fiber prized for stationery. Its bark is used for tanning.
Advices of planting:
Well water in the first years, if need. See general instructions. Spruces require no maintenance, only cutting the low branches which die because they have no more light.

How to differentiate easily a spruce of a fir:
Difference Norway Spruce Fir
Habitat likes humidity, and is spread in zones with low humidity likes humidity, appreciates the North mountainsides of mountains
Form pyramidal, conical flattened crown
Bark in scales, dark-haired women smooth, grey
Roots creeping (in surface) swivel (deep)
Branches like spaniel tail horizontal
Stems veined smooth
Needles radiant (in bottlebrushes);
by shedding, the needle takes a stem piece.
in comb (pectinate) ;
the needle falls down easily.
Cones pendulous, sometimes bent, falling whole upright, liberating seeds one to one
Wood resinous, odorous, clear, without very distinct duramen not resinous

Not European species:

Serbian Spruce: flattened needles with two bands of stomates on the underside.

White Spruce (from the Caucasus): short needles in bottlebrush.

White spinet very spread in the North of Canada: 40 m tall in its original area; needles squalid green in bottlebrush.

Norway Spruce of Sitka
also from the North Canada: the biggest (50 m in Europe, 80 m in Canada); needles fan-shaped or in brush; established in Brittany, where it appreciates the acid soils and the oceanic atmosphere.

Norway Spruce of the Colorado
: squalid variety or blue Fir (due to the aquamarine colour of its needles) is the most spreading in parks and gardens.
Brewer spruce: needles flexible, flattened; whining form.

Norway Spruce of the Himalayas: 40 m of maximum height; branches and stems pendulous (whining form); longer needles than to other species (3 cm) and flexible; smooth and bright cones. Its Latin name (Picea smithiana) comes from James Smith, first president of the Society of Linné.

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