Landowner Fact Sheets

red spruce Picea rubens

Red spruce is a conifer of cool, moist eastern forests. Populations in the north are associated with heavy snow cover or moist marine exposures. It is restricted to high elevations in the southern Appalachians. Red spruce is used for a variety of wood products, including fine musical instruments.

range map Click to see more images. wood grain

Red spruce is shade tolerant and can be regenerated by shelterwood, group and single tree selection, clearcut, and seed-tree methods. It responds well to increased light despite many years of suppression.

Prefers cool moist sites. In the northern part of its range, it grows from the seaside to high elevations. In the southern part of its range (northern Georgia), it is restricted to the highest peaks. It can grow in wet situations but grows best on well drained soils.


Upright and straight, with a narrow crown; reaching a height of 60 to 80 feet and a diameter of 1 to 2 feet.

Timber Value
Red spruce is used for lumber, pulpwood, poles, piling, boat building stock, cooperage stock, flukeboard, plywood, pianos, guitars, mandolins, violins, organ pipes.

Wildlife Value
Seeds and buds are eaten by birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents. Red spruce provides cover for deer and moose.
Attracts mice, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, moose, bear, porcupine, yellow-bellied sapsucker and other birds

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
The light and strong wood is used for timber and pulp. In recent years red spruce has been experiencing a decline in much of its range which has been linked to severely cold winters and possibly air pollution. The famous acoustic guitar manufacturer, Martin and Company, used primarily red spruce for guitar tops dating from approximately 1900 to the mid 1940's.

Latin Meaning
Picea: Latin "pix" (pitch-producing) from Greek "pissa" (pitch) / rubens: blushed with red (buds and bark) - Latin "rubere" (red)

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.