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Plant type

Tree

Size

40 - 230 ft Tall

Form

Pyramidal, Upright

Growth rate

Moderate

Dormancy

Evergreen

Color

Yellow

Flowering season

Spring

The Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) is a large coniferous evergreen tree growing to 50-70 meter tall, exceptionally to 100 meter tall, and with a trunk diameter of up to 5 meter, exceptionally to 6-7 meter diameter. Native to the northwest coast of North America, primarily Humboldt and Del Norte Counties in California, it is by far the largest species of spruce, and the third tallest conifer species in the world (after Coast Redwood and Coast Douglas-fir). Also, the fourth largest conifer (behind Giant Sequia, Coast and Western Red Cedar). It acquires its name from the community of Sitka, Alaska. The bark is thin and scaly, flaking off in small circular plates 5-20 centimeter across. The crown is broad conic in young trees, becoming cylindric in older trees; old trees may have no branches in the lowest 30-40 meter. The shoots are very pale buff-brown, almost white, and smooth (hairless) but with prominent pulvini. The leaves are stiff, sharp and needle-like, 15-25 millimeter long, flattened in cross-section, dark waxy pale blue-green above with two or three thin lines of stomata, and blue-white below with two dense bands of stomata.

Sun

Full Sun, Partial Shade

Water

Moderate, High

Summer irrigation

Max 1x / month once established

Cold tolerance

Tolerates cold to 20° F

Soil drainage

Medium

Soil description

Prefers rich, forest soil with well-decomposed organic component derived from decaying wood. For garden purposes add redwood compost to soil mix..

Maintenance

Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Propagation

For propagating by seed: No treatment. ( USDA Forest Service 1974); 1 mo. stratification ( Babb 1959).

Sunset Zones

2, 3, 4*, 6*, 7, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*

Because of its great size, this tree should be used on large acreage with other species of the north coast such as Cascades Oregon Grape (Berberis nervosa), Water Birch (Betula occidentalis), Bush Chinquapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens), Dwarf Juniper (Juniperus communis), Huckleberry Oak (Quercus vaccinifolium), Stink Currant (Ribes bracteosum), and Western Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis).

Oregon Grape

Berberis nervosa

Water Birch

Betula occidentalis

Bush Chinquapin

Chrysolepis sempervirens

Common Juniper

Juniperus communis

Caterpillars
Pollinators

Butterflies and moths supported

32 confirmed and 18 likely

Confirmed Likely

Agrochola pulchella

Orange Tortrix Moth

Argyrotaenia franciscana

Rusty Shoulder Knot Moth

Aseptis binotata

Douglas-Fir Cone Moth

Barbara colfaxiana

Site type

Moist places near river mouths at lower elevations and usually near the coast, from Ft. Bragg (Mendocino County), California to Kodiak Island, Alaska

Plant communities

Closed-cone Pine Forest, Coastal Strand, North Coastal Coniferous Forest, Forest, Wetland-Riparian,