Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy. Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. An emergency food, used when all else fails. Seed - raw. Rich in oil and with a pleasant slightly resinous flavour, but too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are desperate.A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips. These tips are also used in making spruce beer.
An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery. The seed contains 30% of a fatty oil, this is used in the production of a varnish. The bark contains some tannin. Both the bark and bark extract have been widely used in Europe as a source of tannin, the bark containing up to 13% tannin. Yields of tannin have been doubled by heating or steaming the bark as soon as possible after the tree has been felled. A fairly wind resistant tree and fast growing, it can be planted in shelterbelts to provide protection from the wind. The dwarf cultivar 'Inversa' can be grown as a ground cover plant in a sunny position. The cultivars 'Reflexa' and 'Procumbens' can also be used. They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way.Wood - medium hard, fairly elastic, durable under water, light in weight and colour. Used for general carpentry, joinery, musical instruments etc. Valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper.
Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, August in a frame. Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring. Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 - 10cm long, September/October in a cold frame. Takes 12 months.Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but sure.
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A very cold-hardy tree when fully dormant, though the young shoots are subject to injury by late frosts, though less so than P. sitchensis. A fast growing tree, it is widely planted in cool temperate zones for its wood. Young trees often grow 1 metre or more a year and can sustain an average of 60cm for at least the first 60 years though growth tails off as they grow older. Probably not that long-lived in Britain, about 200 years seems the absolute maximum. In some upland areas, especially over granitic or other base-poor soils, growth rate and health have been seriously affected by aluminium poisoning induced by 'acid rain' pollution. There are many named varieties, almost all of them dwarf forms. A food plant for many caterpillars. A very aggressive tree, it is hostile to other trees. Susceptible to attacks by bark beetles so it should be kept away from more valuable trees. A biological control is being introduced (1983). This species is susceptible to honey fungus. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. The seed is shed in spring, the cones release their seed whilst they are still on the tree.The bruised leaves emit a delicious musky smell.
Problems, pests & diseases
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