Picea engelmannii
(Engelmann Spruce)

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
Also known as Columbian, White, Mountain, or Silver Spruce
  • 2-3 cm long needles borne singly on tiny wooden spurs called sterigma are pointed, but not particularly rigid;
  • oriented 360 degrees around the pubescent to glabrous twigs;
  • narrowly ridged on upper surface, with a prominent ridge beneath resulting in a quadrangular cross section, thus they can be rolled between thumb and forefinger; both surfaces have two lines of stomata.
  • yellow staminate cones 10-15 mm long;
  • ovulate cones 4-5 cm long with scales which are triangular in shape with erose margins;
  • bracts are only ½ as long and thus do not protrude.
  • approximately 3 mm long with wings about 2-3 times longer.

General Description:
A spire-like, straight tree up to 50 m tall and a trunk up to 1-1.5m in diameter, with spreading branches in regular whorls, forming narrow pyramidal crowns; branchlets pubescent for 3-4 years; leaves 4-angled, ill-scented, 2.5-3 cm long, glaucous when young; cones oblong-cylindric, brown; scales thin, erose-dentate; seeds nearly black about 3 mm long. Hills. B.C. to N. M., Ariz.., and Calif.

Yukon, British Columbia southward through the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon and California eastward to southwestern Alberta, Idaho, Montana, southward in the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Montane on dry slopes or around swamps mostly at elevations exceeding 3000 feet.

Where their ranges overlap, Engelmann Spruce appears to hybridize with Sitka Spruce, White Spruce and Colorado Blue Spruce.

“Spruces are valuable trees, both to man and wildlife. Since the spruce grouse is almost entirely dependent upon spruce trees for food and cover, its range is the same as that of the various spruces. The blue grouse also utilizes spruce for food and shelter but a a lesser extent than the spruce grouse. Whitetail deer and rabbits browse twigs and leaves of young plants; while squirrels, chipmunks, and seed-eating birds especially the white-winged crossbill, consume large quantities of spruce seeds. The soft, odorless wood is used for many purposes. Spruces are probably the most important source of pulp wood in North America. Several species are planted widely for ornamental purposes and for windbreaks.” (Elias, 1987)

The wood of Engelmann Spruce is not widely used because of its habitat of high mountainous areas. But if used, is grouped with other spruces. The soft, yellowish-brown, resilient wood is used in general construction. It is important for firewood. It was used by native Americans and early settlers for tanning leather.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002