Time to Spruce Things Up!
Halloween is over. It’s the beginning of November, and if the decorations in the stores or the recent Southern Ontario snowfall are any indication, it’s time to start talking about Christmas!
Ok! Ok! Don’t yell at me! I happened to take some pictures of a tree a while ago, and wanted to write a “Species of the Week” about it. It just happens that this particular tree is also a very popular Christmas tree.
This is a Spruce tree. More specifically, if I’m not mistaken, it is a Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), and our Species of the Week! As usual, if there are any experts out there, please feel free to correct me!
Blue spruce needles are 4-sided, sharp, short and have a dull blue-grey colour. Needles on a spruce are arranged all around the branch, rather than in a plane (the fir tree needle arrangement). Blue spruces are also popular ornamentals and grow up to 115 feet. They are not native to Southern Ontario, but are common in the Rocky Mountains area of the States.
While Blue Spruces are popular as Christmas trees, I prefer friendlier trees that hurt less while decorating, (pungens means “sharp” in latin), so please see my post on the Balsam fir.
Spruce trees are typically used for basic construction and paper-making purposes. Historically, woodsmen often chewed spruce sap like gum, and it was sold in stores. If you are so inclined (although I’m not), there are a number of online sites that demonstrate how to make and purify spruce gum. (Anyone tried it before?) Also, as with most other species of flora I have discussed so far, various parts of the spruce tree have been used for a variety of medicinal purposes.
And, of course, Blue Spruces provide shelter and food for birds and small mammals.
Happy Holidays! 😉
Posted on November 3, 2014, in Species of the week and tagged blue spruce, christmas tree, colorado blue spruce, evergreens, nature, picea, picea pungens, species of the week, spruce gum, spruce tree. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.