Identification: Spruce ID

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Nik, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Can anyone help me identify the species of spruce in our yard? I am trying to figure out if someone planted a Christmas tree long time ago, or if it is a naturally occurring species in area. I have not seen any others in the vicinity of our house. It is shaded heavily by nearby large trees and I have never seen cones on it. The needles are rather delicate. Last two pictures show the underside of a branch.
     

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  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Nik good afternoon N. I think you are right Picea abies or Norway spruce. I think someone planted their Christmas tree.
     
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  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Agree with Norway Spruce Picea abies. Looks like it is suffering from lack of light with all those surrounding trees; it is unlikely to produce any cones until it can get its head up into the sun.
     
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  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Will never produce an attractive specimen unless something is done to open up the planting site adequately.
     
  5. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    Norway spruce is pretty tolerant to the shade, it must be something else there, why the tree is so weak. Possibly its roots are in bad shape or the soil is too wet/dry.
    It has hardly been a Christmas tree, as it is bent from low part of the stem.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It'll survive in shade (and grow perhaps 10-20 cm per year in height), but it won't thrive (grow 30-60 cm per year, and produce cones). Hard to know about the stem straightness - we can't see the bottom of the trunk. Maybe it was planted out as a 1 metre christmas tree, and the stem bends are higher up, and caused by poor growth after its christmas house-heat shock.
     
  7. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    From what is visible from the first photo, there is not too dark for spuce. In the forest spruce can grow nicely in much darker conditions, even if its crown is growing into another tree's crown. The shape of the tree's crown top is pretty sharp, unlike of those spruces, that are struggling in the extreme poor light conditions (their top is blunt, trees are growing more into width than into height), but its needles are weak like of those underdogs.
     
  8. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Here is a photo from further away. The tree is about 20 ft high. There is some damage to the lower trunk by a male white tail deer, which was rubbing its head/antlers in it last year. Sadly we will have the more than 100 ft tall tulip poplar (marked with dark pink band) in front of it removed later this fall.
     

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  9. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    From the last photo it seems, that the soil there is pretty rocky and the lower part of the spruce's stem has got some damage. Usually spruce can handle such light conditions, that I can see from the photo - it seems, that from the camera's side, there is pretty large distance between the spruce and neighbouring trees. It should have been in pretty good side light even before the large tree was removed.

    If this large tree was removed recently, then it is expected, that light conditions improved considerably, and the spruce should recover.
    As a forester I was teached, that until spruce's side branches are not longer than the top, then the tree can benefit from improved light conditions. If branches are longer than the top, then it is almost impossible to grow healthy tree from it.
     
  10. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    This is how our Christmas tree in the yard looks after the giant tulip poplar that was shading it was removed. Also, a close up of the damage from a male deer from about a year ago to the lower trunk. I hope it is not doomed..
     

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  11. araven

    araven New Member

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    Hey,
    I am from Sweden and surrounded by Picea abies, they need virtually no light and outcompete all leafed trees in cold climates. I am trying to establish a leafed forest here and they keep popping up and thriving, light or no light, competition by larger trees or not, wet or dry, clay or loam. However, if they are planted in warm climates they generally can't compete with leafed trees(unless cared for). If it is Picea abies clearly they are not suited for your climate, it certainly does not need more light. Look at the surrounding forest, leafed trees, you are below the Picea abies limit, which means it gets outcompeted easily by leafed trees. Below but near the limit there is a mixture of leaf and Picea - your forest is dominated by leaf so you should be 100s of km from where the limit is(or in a warm microclimate). Take a drive, you'll start to see mixed forest then virtually only Picea abies(I believe it has a worldwide distribution up north, so you should have a similar limit in the US, it might be that you have to drive up into Canada since you are at a coastal location. Picea abies outcompetes everything except Pinus sylvestris on dry, nutrition-poor soil above the limit. Well except for certain microclimates. I will cut off a branch and compare with your pictures.

    Regards,
    Araven
     
  12. araven

    araven New Member

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    Hey,
    Just cut of a branch from a young Picea Abies and it does not look like your photos. In particular the nodes where the branches separate from the stem are the same colour as the rest of the branch and the needle configuration flatter - Picea glauca has your configuration of needles and the dark nodes, just saying. One tends to forget that Picea glauca looks much like Picea abies in its natural form, there are so many cultivars. But I know nothing when it comes to spruces, especially starving spruces :)

    Regards,
    Araven
     
  13. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    I cannot distinguish between P. abies and P. glauca. I was looking at a lot of pictures online of the two, and just can’t tell. The needles and bark look more abies to me.
    I guess I will have to wait for cones to definitely identify it.
    Whatever the case, it is not a local species, someone planted it after Christmas long time ago.
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  15. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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  16. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    As a forester from Estonia I disagree with you.
    Norway spruce will not always outcompete significantly older and larger deciduous trees even in the optimal zone for spruce. That poplar, that was removed from the close neighbourhood of the spruce was hiding too much light from the spruce to let it grow normally. Plus these wounds from wild animals. Plus poor root conditions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Follow key results to full descriptions on same site to check choices made. Regarding white spruce there is also this account:

    Picea glauca (white spruce) description (conifers.org)

    where it is mentioned that

    The epithet refers to the glaucous (pale blue) tinge on the foliage

    which is something that your tree has not had be very apparent in your pictures.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  18. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  19. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    I guess what confused me in the key was that P. abies is defined as having blunt-tipped leaves,
    whereas P. glauca is supposed to have mostly sharp-pointed leaves. Is it possible that poor light conditions affect the glaucous color?
    Few more photos taken just now. Last one is a branch underside.
     

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  20. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    I don't see any properties, that suggest against P. abies.
    P. abies has relatively sharp leaf tips. Definitely not blunt like Abies family.
     
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  21. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Off topic - Nik: have you posted any photos of your beautiful forest in full autumn colors?

    We don’t have the full color range naturally like back east has each fall

    When you have time, I would enjoy seeing colors with your granite (?) outcrops etc

    Thank you
     
  22. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Hi @Georgia Strait , I have not. Last year, 2020, fall colors were nothing memorable...
    I guess it was bad year all around. Even for autumn foliage. Let’s see how this year turns out.
     
  23. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Depends on how you define 'blunt-tipped', and what you're comparing with.

    Compared with Picea pungens (Blue Spruce), both P. abies and P. glauca have very blunt leaves; compared with Picea omorika, or a lot of Abies species, they both have relatively sharp leaves. On balance, I'd say Picea abies is just slightly pricklier than Picea glauca, but there's not a lot in it.
     
  24. araven

    araven New Member

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    Hey,
    You are comparing forest with human-cultivated/disturbed land. Along roads and old settlements and obviously around settled areas the conditions are totally different. I doubt it was light that was the problem, but general competition of nutrients and water.
     
  25. araven

    araven New Member

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    I am still not convinced whether it is Picea abies or Picea glauca, the P.glauca we have here are all the same colour as P.abies.
     

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