Picea rubens Sarg.

red spruce

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Growing best in a cool, moist climate, red spruce tends to occur at higher elevations and in cold pockets in New England. This species is quite vulnerable to acid rain, and many stands have died as a result. Spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) also attacks these trees. In addition to yielding valuable lumber, red spruce has also been used in the manufacture of pianos, guitars, mandolins, violins, and organ pipes. Red spruce is also the source of spruce gum, a chewing gum sold in Maine in the late 1800's.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, forests, swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Growth form
the plant is a tree
Leaf form
the leaves are needle-like
Leaf cross-section
the needle-like leaves are rounded, or flattened on one side (can be rolled between the fingers)
Leaf arrangement
there is one needle-like leaf per node
Seed cone form
the seed cone is longer than wide, with woody scales attached at the base
Leaf clustering
the needle-like leaves are single, with one per node
Leaves overlapping
the needle-like leaves are separate and do not hide the twig surface
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Winter bud shape
    the winter buds are ovoid (egg-shaped)
  • Fruits or seeds
    Seed cone base
    NA
    Seed cone bracts
    the bracts are covered by the seed cone scales
    Seed cone form
    the seed cone is longer than wide, with woody scales attached at the base
    Seed cone scales
    NA
    Seed cone symmetry
    the seed cone is symmetrical
    Seed cone umbo position
    there is no raised portion on the seed cone scale
    Seed cone umbo spine
    NA
    Seed wings
    the seeds have wing-like projections
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a tree
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    there is one needle-like leaf per node
    Leaf base
    the base of the needle-like leaf is narrow (not expanded) at the attachment point
    Leaf clustering
    the needle-like leaves are single, with one per node
    Leaf cross-section
    the needle-like leaves are rounded, or flattened on one side (can be rolled between the fingers)
    Leaf duration
    the needle-like leaves remain green all winter
    Leaf form
    the leaves are needle-like
    Leaf glands
    there are no glands on the underside of the needle-like leaves
    Leaf stalks
    the needle-like leaves do not have a leaf stalk
    Leaf types
    there is only one type of needle-like leaf on the twig
    Leaves overlapping
    the needle-like leaves are separate and do not hide the twig surface
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • forests
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Bark resin blisters
    • the bark has small resin blisters on it
    • there are no resin blisters on the bark
    Branchlet thickness
    1–4 mm
    Leaves on shoots
    the needle-like leaves do not grow in tight clusters on a short, knob-like shoot
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hair type
    the twigs have hairs, but the hairs do not have glands
    Twig hairs
    the twig is hairy

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
uncommon (S-rank: S3)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Picea glauca:
branchlets that lack hairs and have a thin layer of bloom and seed cone scales that are entire along the apical margin (vs. P. rubens, with minutely hairy branchlets that lack bloom and seed cone scales minute teeth along the apical margin). Picea mariana: branchlets minutely hairy, some of the hairs with a gland at the apex, and leaves not shiny and with a bloom (vs. P. rubens, with branchlets minutely hairy but none of the hairs terminated by a gland and leaves somewhat shiny and without a bloom).

Synonyms

  • Picea australis Small
  • Picea nigra (Ait.) Link var. rubra (Du Roi) Engelm.

Family

Pinaceae

Genus

Picea

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

4.  Picea rubens Sarg. N

red spruce. Picea australis Small; P. nigra (Ait.) Link var. rubra (Du Roi) Engelm. • CT, MA, ME, NH, VT. Predominant in boreal and subalpine forests, though sporadically occurring in many mixed forest types and sometimes in wetlands with a well-developed organic soil horizon.

3×4. Picea mariana × Picea rubens This nothospecies is frequent in areas of sympatry between the parental taxa. Such areas include the higher mountains of New England and coniferous forests that are adjacent to acidic peatlands. Hybrids are best recognized by intermediate morphology, but some studies suggest that extensive backcrossing has occurred, causing some hybrid-derived individuals to look more similar to one or the other parent.