Black spruce is a small, narrow evergreen tree with a spire-like crown. It has descending branches, with dark, bluish-green needles, and upturned ends. Lower limbs sweep the ground. It is an excellent choice for cold northern climates and tolerant of wet sites.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- North America
- Shade tree
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Occasional drought,
- Wet sites
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
30 to 50 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide.
The tree is very narrow and conical to spire-like with descending branches. Lower limbs sweep the ground.
Tree & Plant Care
Does best in cold northern climates. It may be stressed in warm summers or below zone 6 temperatures.
The shallow, spreading root system benefits from a 3-4” layer of organic mulch.
Spruce need very little in the way of pruning.
All evergreens experience seasonal needle fall in autumn. The interior, older needles turn brown and drop.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious disease or insect problems but needle rusts and cankers can occur.
Due to its shallow root system, black spruce is prone to wind throw (uprooting by wind).
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to northern North America, from Newfoundland to Alaska, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and central British Columbia. In its more southern range it is found growing around bogs and swamps.
Attracts birds & butterflies
Twigs, leaves and seeds are important wildlife food. Very valuable as nesting sites for birds.
Bark color and texture
Bark is dark gray, thin and scaly. As bark breaks into scales, the inner green bark is revealed.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Blue green, stiff needles are attached singly to the stem, paler underneath.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
The cones are the smallest of all of the spruces, rounded to spindle-shape, dark purple ripening red-brown, produced in dense clusters in the top of the tree. Cones are known to persist for several years.