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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Picea sitchensis

Sitka spruce

This species does not produce flowers
Full sun Mostly sunny Partial sun
Moist soil


At a Glance: Large tree with horizontal branches and drooping branchlets

Height: Up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall.
Growth Form: Tree.
Stems: Thin, scaly gray-brown bark.
Leaves: Stiff, very sharp needles 1-3 cm (0.4-1 in) long with 2 white lines of stomata on upper surface, usually 2 narrower lines on lower surface, attached at end to persistent woody pegs; shape: 4 sided, somewhat flattened; color: yellowish-green or bluish-green.
Flowers: Cones. Pollen cones red; seed cones 5-8 cm (2-3 in) long, cylindrical, reddish-brown becoming brown, with thin, wavy, irregularly toothed scales.
Flowering Period: none.

Picea sitchensis
Photo © Heidi Bohan
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Birds: Nuthatches, grosbeaks, finches, chickadees, siskins, goldfinches, crossbills, and sparrows all eat the seeds. Grouse eat the needles, sapsuckers harvest insects from the sap, and woodpeckers forage on bark beetles. Bald eagles and other predatory birds use the tree as a roost to survey the shore for prey. Some large birds of prey may use the mature trees for nests. Cavity-nesting birds and other animals use the tree cavities.
Mammals: Colombian black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk consume the succulent new shoots. Deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and porcupines benefit from the shelter of the tree.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: The roots were used to make water-tight hats and baskets, especially among the Haida, and Tlingit. The pitch was chewed for pleasure. The roots were also used for twine, rope, including whaling lines. The pitch was used to caulk harpoon tips and canoes. The wood has been used for shelving, ladders, musical instruments, and airplane frames in WWI and WWII.
Medicinal Uses: The inner bark was eaten as a laxative by the Nuxalk. The pitch was used as a medicine for gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, sore throats, internal swellings, rheumatism and toothaches.
Food Uses: The Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian ate the inner bark fresh or dried into cakes with berries. The Makah ate the young shoots raw, which are high in vitamin C. The pitch can be chewed as gum.
Landscape Uses: This tree will grow too large for most landscapes.


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.