White spruce is a large, pyramidal evergreen with aromatic foliage and uniform habit. This popular garden conifer is native to Canada and the northwestern United States. When sited properly white spruce can be a long-lived attractive addition to any landscape.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
- Moderately Tolerant
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:
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun. Tolerant of clay soil but good drainage is a must.
The shallow, spreading root system benefits from a 3-4” layer of organic mulch.
Spruce need very little in the way of pruning.
Disease, pests, and problems
Cankers, root rots and needlecast diseases.
Bagworm, sawfly and needle miners. One of the hosts for eastern spruce gall adelgids.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Canada and the northwestern United States in moist, cool climates.
Bark color and texture
Gray to silvery gray and scaly or flaky.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Evergreen. Pale green pointed needles are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, 4-sided, often crowded on the upper surface of the stem.
The aromatic needles can persist for 3 to 4 years before dropping.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Both male and female flowers are small and insignificant, found on the same tree.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
White Spruce has the smallest cones of any of the spruces, typically 1 to 2 inches long, cylindrical and pendulous, often clustered near the top of the tree. They are a medium green color throughout much of the summer, and turn brown in autumn and winter. Cones scales are thin, rounded and have smooth margins. A favorite of many birds.
Cultivars and their differences
Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca var. densata): 20 to 40 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide, very narrow, dense form, slow growing. Good for space restrictions, screen or windbreak.