Black spruce, bog spruce, swamp spruce, épinette noire (Canadian French) (Taylor 1993).
Synonymy (Taylor 1993):
Trees to 25 m tall and 25 cm dbh (often much smaller, occurring as krummholz near the arctic treeline); "crown narrowly conic to spirelike. Bark gray-brown. Branches short and drooping, frequently layering; twigs not pendent, rather slender, yellow-brown, pubescent. Buds gray-brown, ca. 3 mm, apex acute. Leaves 0.6-1.5(2) cm, 4-angled in cross section, rigid, pale blue-green, glaucous, bearing stomates on all surfaces, apex mostly blunt-tipped. Seed cones 1.5-2.5(-3.5) cm [in cultivation rarely to 4.5 cm]; scales fan-shaped, broadest near apex, 8-12 × 8-12 mm, rigid, margin at apex irregularly toothed. 2n=24" (Taylor 1993). Cones fusiform, matt, dark purple ripening purple-brown (c.f. P. rubens ovoid, glossy, orange-brown).
Canada: all provinces; France: St. Pierre and Miquelon; USA: Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine at 0-1500 m in muskegs, bogs, bottomlands, and relatively dry peatlands (Taylor 1993). See also Thompson et al. (1999). Hardy to Zone 2 (cold hardiness limit between -45.6°C and -40.0°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
Height 24 m, dbh 50 cm, crown spread 6 m, located in Taylor County, WI (American Forests 1996). Vladimir Dinets (e-mail, 2003.10.18) reports "some unusually tall stands can be seen in eastern Labrador. I measured (by shadow comparison) a tree near Muskrat Falls (Goose Bay area) to be appr. 30 m tall."
A crossdated age of 330 years was recently secured for a tree in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario (Girardin et al. 2006).
Although it is a small tree, vast tracts of it are currently being logged in Canada, primarily for pulp but also for timber (for example, the chopsticks provided at fast-food restaurants in the Far East are often P. mariana).
Readily encountered in its native habitat throughout Canada, Alaska, and northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine. I was particularly interested by its occurrence near the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, where it forms an alpine krummholz shrub, with trees only a few decimeters tall bearing cones. This is the only place I have seen it form alpine (rather than arctic) krummholz.
Girardin, M.-P., J.C. Tardif, M.D. Flannigan and Y. Bergeron. 2006. Synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation and boreal Canada summer drought variability of the past three centuries. Journal of Climate 19(10):1922-1947.
This page co-edited with Michael P. Frankis, 1998.12.
British Columbia Ministry of Forests. [no date]. The Ecology of the Boreal White and Black Spruce Zone, accessed 2009.03.25 (PDF file).
The FEIS database.
Last Modified 2012-11-28