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Spruce: characteristics and uses

This is a tree that lives in the high mountains and its shape probably derives from adaptive processes in order to survive the snow pressure without being damaged.
In fact, the foliage is elongated and straight, but at low altitudes it can become a little more expanded.
It can reach 40 meters in height (for adult individuals) and about 80 cm in diameter of the stem. The latter is the element that gives its name to the tree thanks to its coloring which is red but which at maturity becomes a yellow-brown color.
The main branches of this tree are those that give the specific shape to the crown and are therefore turned upwards, while the secondary ones are pendulous.
The leaves are needle-like and typical of conifers, they have a light green color originally, but they become a beautiful dark green color and very sharp when ripe.
The reproductive organs represent well the canons of the Gymnosperms. These are structures made up of leaves that are differentiated by their reproductive function and are called Sporofilli.There are two types: male conical and yellow-brown microsporophylls; female macrophilous, bright red and united in clusters.
The production of gametes from these portions of the plant and the consequent fertilization leads to the formation of those that are known with the name of Pigne within which the seeds are enclosed. The pine cones are a set of woody scales that hang from the plant until they reach maturity, after which they fall to the ground, opening and releasing their contents into the environment. It is precisely to the seeds that both reproduction and propagation of the species is entrusted.
The flowering period fluctuates between April and May, however in Spring.

Some other features

These large trees are widespread in the Alps but there are also Spruce forests in northern Europe and in North America.
They do not have great climatic preferences and are able to tolerate both the high temperatures and the more rigid ones, but they love to receive direct sunlight throughout the year. Young people could be damaged by winter frosts so it would be better to repair them from them.
They live very well in acid soils, but if they are to be cultivated in pots, it is advisable to create a mixture of peat, sand and clay to facilitate water drainage and create the most congenial conditions.
Generally it does not require pruning but can be performed to give more consistency and a more regular shape to the foliage.


The spruce owes its history to the traditional use made of it for the Christmas festivities. Most of the spruces that many families, around the world, decorate for Christmas derive from the largest world distributor that is Norway.
Some groups of environmentalists have opposed this practice considering the spruce a tree not very suitable for decanting and therefore for domestic life, in fact at the end of the festivities few people plant their trees in the garden, but most eliminate it. A useless sacrifice to say about environmental defenders.

Commercial uses

The spruce enjoys numerous properties that are readily exploited by man in the most disparate fields of commerce. To cite some of the uses made of it, reference can be made to the tannins which the trunk is rich in and which have been used in the tanning industry for a very long time. The wood of this tree is very particular thanks to its growth defects which make it particularly suitable for the construction of various musical instruments; therefore its good acoustics are used.
The essential fir oil is extracted from the leaves through very long and complex processes and is used in the cosmetic industry.
Another use a little less common than the others is that linked to the paper industry that uses wood pulp to create the raw material for paper production.
From the distillation of the abundant resin of this wood, turpentine is obtained, a substance used for the treatment of wood.

Any risks

Generally it is a tree that is not attacked by insects and parasites, perhaps due to the presence of tannins in its bark or to the abundant resin it produces. Occasionally however, and especially depending on the environmental characteristics, they can be attacked by aphids and insects.
In particular the lanigeri aphids can attack the young shoots preventing the plant from developing and growing properly.
The Bostricus is an insect able to lay eggs inside the stem of the plant. When these hatch the larvae feed on the vital substance of it destroying it completely.
Another dangerous insect for the spruce is a moth called Processionary. This butterfly nestles between the needles of the plant and reproduces quickly. The result is the reproduction of thousands of moths that at night they voraciously feed on the leaves of these trees creating great damage to the forests.
To avoid these risks it is essential to keep the specimens in full health and an element of defense can be the birds, in particular the Peaks.

Importance of spruce

The importance of spruce is often underestimated. This shrub is a beneficial element for the soil and can help restore the natural habitat of deforested or impoverished soils. For this reason, the cultivation of this plant is done for very specific reasons. The first reason we can call it "protective" while the second "protective-productive". This is because the spruce is easy to grow and takes root even in poor and not very fertile soils. Moreover, thanks to its thick crown it carries out a rainfall regulating action and keeps the avalanche danger away, when planted in groups. It also allows reforestation and the production of oxygen, essential for our survival.