Pinaceae (Pine Family)
The Sitka Spruce is the world's largest spruce. It has a tall, straight trunk and a broad, open, conical crown of horizontal branches. It can reach a height of 49 m with a diameter of 0.9 - 1.5 m; sometimes even larger.
Distinguishing Features - Needles: evergreen; spreading on all sides of twig, 1.5 - 2.5 cm long; flattened and slightly keeled, sharp-pointed; dark green. Bark: gray, smooth, thin; becoming dark purplish-brown with scaly plates. Twigs: brown, stout, hairless, rough, with peglike bases. Cones: 5 - 9 cm long; cylindrical, short-stalked, light orange-brown; hanging at ends of twigs; opening and falling at maturity; cone-scales long, stiff, thin, rounded, and irregularly toothed; paired, brown, long-winged seeds.
Pacific Coast from southern Alaska and British Columbia to northern California; prefers coastal regions in fog belt, high rainfall and cool climate; in pure stands; also with Western Hemlock.
The Sitka Spruce is the main timber tree in Alaska. It produces high-grade lumber for many uses and wood pulp for newsprint. It was formerly used in aircraft construction. Remember the "Spruce Goose" of Howard Hughes fame?
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