White Spruce

White Spruce

Banner Photo Credit: Steven Isaacson CC by SA 2.0

Family: Pinaceae
Latin Name: Picea glauca
Common Name(s): White spruce, Canada spruce, skunk spruce

Deciduous or Evergreen: Evergreen
Native Range: Far nothern United States, Canada
USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-6
Mature Height: 40-60’
Mature Spread: 10-20’
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Native to Minnesota: Yes
Shade Tolerant: No




White spruce is a large, extremely cold-hardy tree native to Minnesota.  Its native range spreads far north to Northern Canada, and can grow up to 120 feet in some places.  Needles are stiff and pointed with a square cross-section.  The needles also have a white waxy coating and give off a strong odor when crushed. Cones are long, slender, smooth, and flexible, turning from green to brown as they mature. 



White spruce is used for pulp and lumber, but also make excellent Christmas trees and is popular for musical instruments.  It is also a highly variable species, with many different forms and varieties across its native range. Black Hills Spruce (P. glauca var. desnata) is a common urban variety seen in Minnesota, and is the state tree of our neighbor South Dakota.

White spruce was one of many species included in a recent study by several University of Minnesota faculty members, including Drs. Rebecca Montgomery, Sarah Hobbie, and Peter Reich, examining growth responses to experimental warming and published in Nature Climate Change in 2015. 


White spruce are suspectiple to attack by the Eastern spruce budworm, and the yellow-headed spruce sawfly, and can develop needle rust or needle cast.  

Other Resources:

South Dakota State Tree

USDA Plant Guide

Nature Climate Change Paper

UMN Extension -- Spruce Diseases

UMN Extension -- Eastern Spruce Budworm

UMN Extension -- Sawflies