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Toxic parts

The sawdust, the resin from the trunk and even the needles can cause dermatitis in some people[1].

Edible uses


Young male catkins - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring[2].

Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy[2]. The cones are 1 - 4cm in diameter[3]. Inner bark - cooked[4]. It is usually harvested in the spring and can be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread[2][5]. An emergency food, it is only used when all else fails. Seed - raw[2]. The seed is about 2 - 4mm long[6] and is too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are desperate[2]. A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips[2][5]. A tea is also made from the needles and the bark[7][8]. A gum obtained from the bark is collected in considerable quantities and used for chewing[3][9]. Hardened blobs make an excellent chewing gum[10]. It should be aged for 3 days or more before using it[8]. The best gum is obtained from the southern side of the tree[11]. Another report says that the gum, called 'spruce gum', is a resinous exudation collected from the branches[12]. A source of 'spruce oil', used commercially for flavouring[12].

The young twigs are boiled with molasses, sugar etc and then fermented to produce 'Spruce beer'[12][4]. The beer is ready to drink in a week and is considered to be a good source of minerals and vitamins[10].

Unknown part


Inner bark


Material uses

A yellow-orange dye is obtained from the cones[13].

Various native North American Indian tribes made a string from the long roots of this species and used it to stitch the bark of their canoes, to sew baskets etc[10][4]. The pitch obtained from the trunk has been used as a sealing material on the hulls of canoes[4].

Wood - light, soft, not strong[3][14]. It weighs 28lb per cubic foot[15]. Since it is a smaller tree than the other spruces, it is not an important lumber source for uses such as construction[10]. However, it is widely used for making boxes, crates etc[10], and is valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper, plus it is also used as a fuel[14][6].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A poultice of the inner bark has been applied to inflammations[1][4]. A tea made from the inner bark is a folk remedy for kidney stones, stomach problems and rheumatism[1].

An infusion of the roots and bark has been used in the treatment of stomach pains, trembling and fits[4]. A resin from the trunk is used as a poultice and salve on sores to promote healing[1][4]. The resin can be mixed with oil and used as a dressing on purulent wounds, bad burns, skin rashes, scabies and persistent scabs[4]. The resin can be chewed as an aid to digestion[4]. A decoction of the gum or leaves has been used in treating respiratory infections and kidney problems[4]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a bath or a rub in treating dry skin or sores[4]. A decoction of the young twigs has been used in the treatment of coughs[4].

A decoction of the cones has been drunk in the treatment of diarrhoea[4]. A decoction has been used externally as a gargle to treat sore throats[4]. The cones have been chewed to treat a sore mouth and toothaches[4].


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - stratification will probably improve germination so sow fresh seed in the autumn in a cold frame if possible[16]. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible in a cold frame[17]. A position in light shade is probably best[17]. Seed should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a cool place[16]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year, or be placed in an outdoor nursery bed for a year or so to increase in size. They might need protection from spring frosts.

Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, August in a frame. Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring[17]. Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 - 10cm long, September/October in a cold frame. Takes 12 months[17]. Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but sure.

Layering. Lower branches often layer naturally in the wild[10].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Picea mariana. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Likes abundant moisture at the roots, if grown in drier areas it must be given a deep moist soil[18]. Tolerates poor peaty soils[19]. Succeeds in wet cold and shallow soils but is not very wind-firm in shallow soils[20]. Prefers a pH between 4 to 6[19] and dislikes shallow chalky soils[18]. Dislikes shade[19]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[18]. Resists wind exposure[21][19].

This tree is one of the most widespread and abundant species in N. America where it is extensively utilized as a timber tree[10]. A short lived and slow growing tree both in the wild and in cultivation[22][23][6]. New growth takes place from early May to the end of June and rarely exceeds 60 cm even when young and is less as the tree grows old[23]. Trees have been planted experimentally as a timber crop in N. Europe[24] (this appears to contradict the previous statement that the tree is slow growing. The reason is probably that it is either planted in areas too harsh for most trees to grow or it is only slow growing in milder areas such as Britain[K]). A prolific seed-producer, usually beginning to bear cones at around 10 years of age[6]. 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[19]. Closely related to P. rubens[6]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[19]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[19]. 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[19]. Lower branches often self-layer and form a ring of stems around the parent plant[25]. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[25].

The crushed foliage has a strong scent of balsam or lemon balm[23].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Picea mariana. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Picea mariana.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Picea mariana
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
20 x 4 meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Picea koraiensis young.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  2. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  3. ? Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
  4. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
  5. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  6. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  8. ? Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  10. ? Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  12. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
  14. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books ISBN 0-901361-21-6 (1985-00-00)
  17. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  18. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  19. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  20. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  21. ? Arnold-Forster. Shrubs for the Milder Counties. ()
  22. ? Rushforth. K. Conifers. Christopher Helm ISBN 0-7470-2801-X (1987-00-00)
  23. ? Mitchell. A. F. Conifers in the British Isles. HMSO ISBN 0-11-710012-9 (1975-00-00)
  24. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
  25. ? 25.025.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  26. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

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Facts about "Picea mariana"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyPinaceae +
Belongs to genusPicea +
Has common nameBlack Spruce +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part +, Flowers +, Inner bark +, Seeds + and Seedpod +
Has edible useSeasoning +, Drink +, Unknown use +, Gum + and Tea +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind +
Has fertility typeWind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone4 +
Has imagePicea koraiensis young.JPG +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useDye +, Pitch +, String +, Waterproofing + and Wood +
Has mature height20 +
Has mature width4 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntiinflammatory +, Disinfectant +, Kidney +, Odontalgic +, Poultice +, Salve +, Skin +, Stomachic + and Vulnerary +
Has primary imagePicea koraiensis young.JPG +
Has search namepicea mariana + and x +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid + and Neutral +
Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomy namePicea mariana +
Has water requirementshigh +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +