Spruce tree

(Picea)

galery

Description

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. Picea is the sole genus in the subfamily Piceoideae. Spruces are large trees, from about 20 to 60 m (about 60–200 ft) tall when mature, and have whorled branches and conical form. They can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles (leaves), which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures (pulvini or sterigmata) on the branches, and by their cones (without any protruding bracts), which hang downwards after they are pollinated. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs. In other similar genera, the branches are fairly smooth. Spruce are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moth and butterfly) species, such as the eastern spruce budworm. They are also used by the larvae of gall adelgids (Adelges species). In the mountains of western Sweden, scientists have found a Norway spruce, nicknamed Old Tjikko, which by reproducing through layering, has reached an age of 9,550 years and is claimed to be the world's oldest known living tree. Determining that a tree is a spruce is not difficult; evergreen needles that are more or less quadrangled, and especially the pulvinus, give it away. Beyond that, determination can become more difficult. Intensive sampling in the Smithers/Hazelton/Houston area of British Columbia showed Douglas (1975), according to Coates et al. (1994), that cone scale morphology was the feature most useful in differentiating species of spruce; the length, width, length: width ratio, the length of free scale (the distance from the imprint of the seed wing to the tip of the scale), and the percentage free scale (length of free scale as a percentage of the total length of the scale) were most useful in this regard. Daubenmire (1974), after range-wide sampling, had already recognized the importance of the 2 latter characters. Taylor (1959) had noted that the most obvious morphological difference between typical Picea glauca and typical P. engelmannii was the cone scale, and Horton (1956,1959) found that the most useful diagnostic features of the 2 spruces are in the cone; differences occur in the flower, shoot and needle, "but those in the cone are most easily assessed" (Horton 1959). Coupé et al.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Coniferophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order:Pinales
Family:Pinaceae
Genus:Picea
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