Sitka spruce Pinaceae Picea
sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière symbol: PISI
Leaf: Evergreen, four-sided needles, spirally arranged; 1 inch long with a very sharp tip, needles point perpendicular and forward on the twig; yellow-green above with white bloom below. Each needle borne on a raised, woody peg (sterigma).
Flower: Species is monoecious; male cones erect or pendent; female cones green to purple and borne near the top of the tree.
Fruit: Oblong cones, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long with thin, woody, spirally arranged scales that have very thin, notched edges and are tan when mature; cones ripen in one growing season and occur near the top of the tree.
Twig: Current year's twigs are moderately stout and yellow-brown to orange-brown. All twigs are covered with numerous distinct woody pegs (sterigmata).
Bark: On young trees, bark is thin and scaly, usually gray. On mature trees it's usually less than 1 inch thick; gray to brown and scaly.
Form: Sitka spruce is the largest of all spruces. It commonly is 125 to 180 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet in diameter, but can be much larger. Crown is open with somewhat pendulous branches; branches commonly reach the ground and dead branches are retained for a long time. Base of trees are commonly swollen and buttressed.
Looks like: Engelmann spruce - blue spruce - white spruce - Brewer spruce
Additional Range Information: Picea sitchensis is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. Download the full-size PDF map.
More Information: Wood - Landowner Factsheet
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS FEIS Silvics - USDA Plants Database - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information