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line drawing

Line drawing from the Flora of China (Wu and Raven 1999).


Range of P. jezoensis and several other widespread Asian spruces (redrawn from Vidakovic 1991).


P. jezoensis in Furen-ko Natural Park, Hokkaido [Vladimir Dinets, 2006] (click HERE for more photos).


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Conservation status

Picea jezoensis

(Siebold et Zuccarini) Carrière 1855

Common names

Yezo spruce; Jezo spruce; エゾマツ Ezo-matsu [Japanese]; 卵果鱼鳞云杉 yu lin yunshan [Chinese], Ель аянская [Russian]. Subsp. hondoensis is called Tohi [Japanese].

Taxonomic notes

Two subspecies, jezoensis and hondoensis (Mayr) P.A. Schmidt 1988. The type subspecies has two varieties, jezoensis and komarovii (V.N. Vassil.) W.C. Cheng et L.K. Fu 1978 (Farjon 1990).

Synonymy for the type variety (Farjon 1998):

Synonymy for variety komarovii (Farjon 1998):

Synonymy for subspecies hondoensis (Farjon 1998):


The type subspecies is a monoecious evergreen tree up to 35 m tall and 100 cm dbh. The bark is grayish brown, deeply fissured and peeling off in irregular scales. Branchlets are pale yellowish-brown, deeply grooved, and glabrous; pulvini are 0.5 mm long. Leaves are leathery, linear, flat, slightly keeled on both surfaces, 15-25 mm long, 1.5-2 mm wide, apex pointed, with two white stomatal bands on the upper surface; there are two resin canals two, near the lower surface. There are 1-3 pollen cones, terminal on previous year's shoots, cylindric, red-brown, 1.5-2 cm long, 6 mm across, with numerous stamens. Seed cones are solitary, terminal on previous year's shoots, cylindric, brown, pendant, 4-7 cm long, ca. 2 cm across. The seed scales are thinly woody, ovate or oblong-ovate, with an obtuse or rounded apex, slightly denticulate on upper margin, ca. 10 mm long, 6-7 mm wide. Bract scales are small, narrowly ovate, acute, laxly denticulate on upper margin, ca. 3 mm long. Seeds are obovate, brown, 2-2.5 mm long, 1.5 mm wide; wings oblong-ovate, pale brown, 5-6 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide. The plant flowers in May to June and the cones ripen in September (Iwatsuki et al. 1995).

Subsp. hondoensis differs from the type in having dull red-brown bark that is shallowly fissured and peels off in small scales. The pulvini are smaller, ca. 0.3 mm long, and the leaves are also smaller, 8-15 mm long by 1.5 mm wide. The seed scales are ovate-rhomboid, 8-10 mm wide, and distinctly denticulate on the upper margin. Plants from Ozegahara (Fukushima and Gunma Prefectures) have gray-brown bark, deeply fissured and peeling off in irregular scales. This form has been named f. ozeensis Hayashi (Bull. Gov. For. Exp. Stn. no. 125: 72, t. 2 33, 1960) (Iwatsuki et al. 1995).

Var. komarovii has pale yellowish young shoots and smaller cones (Iwatsuki et al. 1995).

Distribution and Ecology

The type subspecies is native in Japan: S Kuriles and Hokkaido; China: Heilongjiang; North Korea; and Russia: Ussuri, Sakhalin, the Kuriles, and central Kamchatka (Farjon 1990, Iwatsuki et al. 1995). In Japan, it occurs in subalpine forests at 40-1000 m elevation (Iwatsuki et al. 1995); in Russia, it occurs N along Sea of Okhotsk coast to Magadan as "an ecological counterpart of Sitka spruce" (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.02). Hardy to Zone 2 (cold hardiness limit between -45.6°C and -40.0°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001, variety not specified).

Var. komarovii is restricted to North Korea and Heilongjiang (Iwatsuki et al. 1995). Subsp. hondoensis is native only to Japan: central Honshu (southward from Tochigi Prefectura and northward from Nara Prefecture), in subalpine forests at elevations of 1400-2500 m (Iwatsuki et al. 1995).

Big tree

48 m tall in the Shantar Islands (Russia) (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.02).




The Ainu string instrument called tonkori has a body made from Jezo Spruce (Chikar Studio n.d.).




Carrière. 1855. Traité Gen. Conif. 1855.

Chikar Studio. [no date]. Chikar Studio Profile., accessed 2010.12.20.

See also

Geobotanica Pacifica: Vegetation of the Russian Far East (as P. ajanensis), accessed 2009.05.02.

Tomoko Otake. 2005. "Sacred sounds of Ainu tonkori resurrected." Japan Times. Interesting story about the tonkori, though it doesn't mention P. jezoensis.

Aizawa, M., H. Yoshimaru, H. Saito, T. Katsuki, T. Kawahara, K. Kitamura, F. Shi, and M. Kaji. 2007. Phylogeography of a northeast Asian spruce, Picea jezoensis, inferred from genetic variation observed in organelle DNA markers. Molecular Ecology 16(16): 3393-3405. Abstract: Range-wide genetic variation of the widespread cold-temperate spruce Picea jezoensis was studied throughout northeast Asia using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and paternally inherited chloroplast DNA markers. This study assessed 33 natural populations including three varieties of the species in Japan, Russia, China, and South Korea. We depicted sharp suture zones in straits around Japan in the geographical distribution pattern of mitochondrial haplotypes (GST = 0.901; NST = 0.934). In contrast, we detected possible extensive pollen flow without seed flow across the straits around Japan during the past population history in the distribution pattern of chloroplast haplotypes (GST = 0.233; NST = 0.333). The analysis of isolation by distance of the species implied that by acting as a barrier for the movement of seeds and pollen, the sharp suture zones contributed considerably to the level of genetic differentiation between populations. Constructed networks of mitochondrial haplotypes allowed inference of the phylogeographical history of the species. We deduced that the disjunction with Kamchatka populations reflects range expansion and contraction to the north of the current distribution. Within Japan, we detected phylogeographically different types of P. jezoensis between Hokkaido and Honshu islands; P. jezoensis in Honshu Island may have colonized this region from the Asian continent via the Korean peninsula and the species in Hokkaido Island is likely to have spread from the Asian continent via Sakhalin through land bridges. Japanese endemism of mitochondrial haplotypes in Hokkaido and Honshu islands might have been promoted by separation of these islands from each other and from the Asian continent by the straits during the late Quaternary.

Last Modified 2017-01-16