Black Spruce Swamp Spruce Double Spruce Water Spruce
=Habitat and Range.=--Swamps, sphagnum bogs, shores of rivers and ponds,
wet, rocky hillsides; not uncommon, especially northward, on dry uplands
and mountain slopes.
Labrador, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, westward beyond the Rocky
mountains, extending northward along the tributaries of the Yukon
Maine,--common throughout, covering extensive areas almost to the
exclusion of other trees in the central and northern sections,
occasional on the top of Katahdin (5215 feet); New Hampshire and
Vermont,--common in sphagnum swamps of low and high altitudes; the dwarf
form, var. semi-prostrata, occurs on the summit of Mt. Mansfield
(Flora of Vermont, 1900); Massachusetts,--frequent; Rhode Island,--not
reported; Connecticut,--rare; on north shore of Spectacle ponds in Kent
(Litchfield county), at an elevation of 1200 feet; Newton (Fairfield
county), a few scattered trees in a swamp at an altitude of 400 feet:
(New Haven county) a few small trees at Bethany; at Middlebury abundant
in a swamp of five acres (E. B. Harger, Rhodora, II, 126).
South along the mountains to North Carolina and Tennessee; west
through the northern tier of states to Minnesota.
=Habit.=--In New England, usually a small, slender tree, 10-30 feet high
and 5-8 inches in diameter; attaining northward and westward much
greater dimensions; reduced at high elevation to a shrub or dwarf tree,
2 or 3 feet high; trunk tapering very slowly, forming a narrow-based,
conical, more or less irregular head; branches rather short, scarcely
whorled, horizontal or more frequently declining with an upward tendency
at the ends, often growing in open swamps almost to the ground, the
lowest prostrate, sometimes rooting at their tips and sending up shoots;
spray stiff and rather slender; foliage dark bluish-green or glaucous.
This tree often begins to blossom after attaining a height of 2-5 feet,
the terminal cones each season remaining persistent at the base of the
branches, sometimes for many years.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk grayish-brown, separating into rather close, thin
scales; branchlets roughened with the footstalks of the fallen leaves;
twigs in autumn dull reddish-brown with a minute, erect, pale, rusty
pubescence, or nearly smooth.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds scaly, ovate, pointed, reddish-brown.
Leaves scattered, needle-shaped, dark bluish-green, the upper sides
becoming yellowish in the sunlight, the faces marked by parallel rows of
minute bluish dots which sometimes give a glaucous effect to the lower
surface or even the whole leaf on the new shoots, 4-angled, 1/4-3/4 of
an inch long, straight or slightly incurved, blunt at the apex, abruptly
tipped or mucronate, sessile on persistent, decurrent footstalks.
=Inflorescence.=--April to May, a week or two earlier than the red
spruce; sterile flowers terminal or axillary, on wood of the preceding
year; about 3/8 inch long, ovate; anthers madder-red: fertile flowers at
or near end of season's shoots, erect; scales madder-red, spirally
imbricated, broader than long, margin erose, rarely entire.
=Fruit.=--Cones, single or clustered at or near ends of the season's
shoots, attached to the upper side of the twig, but turning downward by
the twisting of the stout stalk, often persistent for years; 1/2-1-1/2
inches long; purplish or grayish brown at the end of the first season,
finally becoming dull reddish or grayish brown, ovate, ovate-oval, or
nearly globular when open; scales rigid, thin, reddish on the inner
surface; margin rounded, uneven, eroded, bifid, or rarely entire.
=Horticultural Value.=--Best adapted to cool, moist soils; of little
value under cultivation; young plants seldom preserving the broad-based,
cone-like, symmetrical heads common in the spruce swamps, the lower
branches dying out and the whole tree becoming scraggly and unsightly.
Seldom offered by nurserymen.
1. Branch with sterile flowers.
2. Stamen, front view.
3. Stamen, side view.
4. Stamen, top view.
5. Branch with fertile flowers.
6. Cover-scale and ovuliferous scale, outer side.
7. Ovuliferous scale with ovules, inner side.
8. Fruiting branch.
11. Cross-sections of leaves.
=Picea rubra, Link.=
Picea rubens, Sarg. Picea nigra, var. rubra, Engelm.