Common Tree Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Picea glauca
White Spruce
Pinaceae (Pine Family)

The white spruce is also known as Canadian spruce, skunk spruce, cat spruce, Black Hills spruce, western white spruce, Alberta white spruce, and Porsild spruce.


General - medium to large-sized, averaging 18 m (60 ft) high, evergreen conifer with a relatively uniform, conical crown. Branches spread slightly downward. Branchlets slender, light brown or pale, sometimes glaucous, hairless. Needles borne on woody pegs. Trunk bark thin, gray-brown in color, smooth, later flaky or scaly.

White Spruce Leaves - evergreen, stiff, 2 cm (< 1 in) long, green to blue-green in color, square in cross section. When crushed a pungent odor is apparent. Needle tips are pointed, but not sharp.

Flowers - Monoecious, males reddish but turning yellow; females purple; appearing in May.

Fruit - cones are about 3.5 - 5.5 cm (1.5 0 2.5 in) long, cigar-shaped, light brown in color. Scales are rounded with entire margins. Winged seeds are enclosed by the woody scales of the mature female cone. Maturing in the fall.


Prevalent throughout Northwestern Ontario. Good growth requires a dependable supply of well-aerated water, yet the species will tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions. It will not tolerate stagnant water that reduces the rooting volume. On the other hand, white spruce will grow on dry sites if they are fertile. Rarely occurrs in pure stands; mostly mixed with black spruce, balsam fir and trembling aspen.

Undergrowth species often include green alder, prickly rose, mountain cranberry, bunchberry and Labrador-tea.


The wood of white spruce is light, straight grained, and resilient. It is used primarily for pulpwood and as lumber for general construction.

More Information - Commercial Profiles for Northwestern Ontario Tree Species.

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