Red Spruce (Picea rubens)

Red Spruce (Picea rubens)

The Red Spruce (Picea rubens), also known as the Eastern Spruce and Yellow Spruce, is an evergreen, monoecious conifer in the Pine Family (Pinaceae). The genus name is from the Latin for "pine" or, more specifically, "pine pitch." The species name is from the Latin for "red." This tree grows to 80 feet (24 meters) in a pyramidal shape with a conical crown. The trunk diameter is up to two feet (60 centimeters). Young Red Spruces may be cut as Christmas trees. However, the lumber from the Red Spruce is prized for its color and resonance when used in musical instruments. It is the biggest source of spruce construction lumber and spruce pulpwood in the northeast.

The red spruce needles are from ½ inch (12 millimeters) to ⅝ inch (15 millimeters) long. They are yellow-green with whitish, linear highlights; four-angled, sharp-pointed, curved inward and grow from all sides of the twig. The twigs are brown and rough.

Red Spruce Needles

The bark of the Red Spruce is reddish brown, thin and scaly.

Red Spruce Bark

The cones are cylindrical, from 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) to 1½ inches (4 centimeters) long and reddish brown. White Spruce cones are longer and Black Spruce cones are shorter. The Red Spruce cone scales are stiff, rounded and may be finely toothed. The seeds are winged but are seldom found with the cones because they are a favorite food for wildlife. Red Spruce seeds are light with 140,000 seeds per pound (0.45 kilograms).

Red Spruce Cone

Red Spruce Cones hang down in clusters from branches usually toward the crown of the tree.

Red Spruce Cones

The root system of the Red Spruce has a minimum depth of 13 inches (33 centimeters).

Red Spruce resin can be chewed as gum. Young leafy twigs of the Red Spruce are used to make spruce beer. Red Spruces will hybridize with Black Spruces making identification difficult at times.

Trees Technical Data and Information French Hill Pond Home