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Picea rubens (Red Spruce)

Red Spruce, Yellow Spruce, West Virginia Spruce, Eastern Spruce, He-balsam, Arctic Spruce, Newfoundland Red Pine, Picea australis

Picea rubens, Red Spruce, Yellow Spruce, West Virginia Spruce, Eastern Spruce, He-balsam, Arctic Spruce, Newfoundland Red Pine, Picea australis, Evergreen Conifer, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree
Picea rubens, Red Spruce, Yellow Spruce, West Virginia Spruce, Eastern Spruce, He-balsam, Arctic Spruce, Newfoundland Red Pine, Picea australis, Evergreen Conifer, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree

Picea rubens (Red Spruce) is a handsome evergreen conifer with a broad or narrow conical crown and a trunk diameter usually up to 24 in. (60 cm). The leaves are needle-like, bright yellow-green, and quite short, 1/2 in. (1 cm). They are four-sided and curved, with a sharp point, extending from all sides of the twig. Thin and scaly, the bark is gray-brown on the surface and cinnamon-brown on the inside. Hanging down from the branches, the cylindrical seed cones, 1-2 in. long (2-5 cm), are glossy red-brown with rigid rounded scales that are often slightly toothed on the edges. Red Spruce grows at a slow to moderate rate (over 12 in. (30 cm) per year) and is long-lived, often achieving ages greater than 350 years. Native to eastern North America, Red Spruce grows in climates with cool, moist summers and cold winters. Its habitat is acid, moist but well-drained sandy loam, often at high altitudes. Red Spruce is one of the most important timber species in the northeastern United States. Its light and resilient wood is used for paper, and construction lumber, and is highly preferred for musical instruments. It is a desirable wildlife tree: twigs, leaves, and seeds are important wildlife food. It is very valuable as a nesting site for birds and provides thermal and loafing cover for spruce grouse in winter.

  • Grows up to 70-100 ft. tall (21-30 m) and 30-40 ft. wide (9-12 m). 
  • Performs best in full sun to partial shade in acidic, moist, well-drained soils. Tolerates full shade, however, growth tends to be suppressed in shade.
  • No pruning required.
  • Red Spruce is relatively free from insects and diseases until it is mature. Mature trees are susceptible to aphids, beetle Borers and scales, rust, and sooty mold. Red Spruce is unpalatable to white-tailed deer. Red spruce can be easily damaged by wind-throw and acid rain.
  • Native to eastern North America, ranging from eastern Quebec and Nova Scotia, west to the Adirondack Mountains, and south through New England along the Appalachians to western North Carolina.

Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 5
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Picea
Common names Red Spruce, Spruce
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 70' - 100'
(21.3m - 30.5m)
Spread 30' - 40'
(9.1m - 12.2m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northeast, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Tennessee, United States, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Picea pungens (Colorado Blue Spruce)
Picea abies (Norway Spruce)
Picea pungens var. glauca (Colorado Blue Spruce)
Picea mariana ‘Nana’ (Black Spruce)
Picea engelmannii (Engelmann Spruce)
Picea mariana (Black Spruce)

Recommended Companion Plants

Taxus canadensis (American Yew)
Clintonia borealis (Blue Bead Lily)
Betula lenta (Sweet Birch)
Prunus serotina (Black Cherry)
Sorbus americana (American Mountain Ash)
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Native Plant Alternatives to Picea abies (Norway Spruce)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 5
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Picea
Common names Red Spruce, Spruce
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 70' - 100'
(21.3m - 30.5m)
Spread 30' - 40'
(9.1m - 12.2m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northeast, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Tennessee, United States, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Picea (Spruce)
Guides with
Picea (Spruce)
Not sure which Picea (Spruce) to pick?
Compare Now

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