Black spruce, or Picea mariana, is a species of spruce native to northern North America, from Newfoundland west to British Columbia and Alaska, and south to the upper US. Black spruce is an impressive, slow-growing, evergreen conifer, noted for its straight trunk and exceptionally narrow, pointed crown. On average it reaches about 70 feet tall, though less in garden situations. The branches are shorter and more compact than other spruces and have an elegant droop that, at branch tip, curve upwards. Black spruce has a narrow uprightness, like an exclamation mark on the landscape, unlike White spruce which is more pyramidal. And Black spruce prefers wetter soils than White spruce, though it will grow quite well on better drained ones. The needles are a rich, dark green and are touch friendly. The outer bark is cinnamon colored while the inner is more olive green.
Black spruce is also legendary for its medicinal properties since, for centuries, it has been used to make healing salves and beverages. And indigenous North Americans used the resin for waterproofing birch bark canoes. And finally, Black spruce is a blessing to wildlife since birds rely on it for food and cover.
Although it may be too narrow to be an effective wind-break, it would serve as a an attractive screen. But it would probably be best utilised as a specimen tree or evergreen anchor for northern gardens. In addition to Canada and the upper US, it grows well in the UK and the cooler parts of New Zealand. There are some very attractive cultivars of Black spruce as well, though these are rarely found at the discount nurseries. Look for them at the better tree nurseries.

Black spruce


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