Picea rubens

American Red Spruce ( Picea rubens ), drawing

The American Red Spruce ( Picea rubens ) is a plant of the genus spruce (Picea ) in the pine family ( Pinaceae ).


The American Red spruce is reached an evergreen tree, the growth heights of up to 40 meters and up to 100 cm in circumference. However, in the north-east of its range it reaches only about 25 meters plant height and 60 cm in circumference. The tallest known specimen with 46 meters height stands in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The bark of the trunk is strong purple-brown to dark gray. She pulls on fine scales and comes off in older trees in small concave plates. The tree crown is narrow conically pointed and long. The branches are more or less from horizontal; the lower branches are slightly curved downward and rise towards the tips again. The twigs are yellowish brown, light orange or reddish brown; they are partly covered with dense hair, partly naked with a few hairs in the furrows. The egg-shaped buds are reddish brown and 5-8 millimeters in size. The needles are thin, up to 1 mm wide and 0.8 to 2.5 cm long; they end pointed. In the first year the needles are grass-green, later dark green and shiny. The crushed needles smell of candle wax or apples.

The male flowers are pendulous and bright red. The female cones are oblong ovate and are often in clusters. They are about 2.3 to 4.5 cm long.

The chromosome number is 2n = 24

Distribution and location

The American Red spruce is native to eastern North America; their range extends substantially from offshore eastern Canada in a southwesterly direction to the Appalachian Mountains. In Canada it is found in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, southern Quebec and southeastern Ontario; on the Prince Edward Island and the French- controlled islands of Saint- Pierre and Miquelon, it is spread. In the eastern United States their deposits rich in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

This type inhabited altitudes from 0 to 2000 m. It prefers a cool, moist climate.

In Germany, the American Red spruce is rarely planted.


The long roots were previously excavated by native Indians, peeled and used for braiding. The resin pitch was used for stuffing holes. In Maine, was won in the last half of the 19th century to the early 20th century from the resin gum. Settlers used the young green needles for flavoring in beer brewing.

The wood is light and of low density. It is used as lumber, pulp and paper production and in the manufacture of stringed and plucked instruments.


The German botanist Otto von Munchausen described the American Red spruce under the taxon Pinus abies var acutissima 1770 in his six -volume work The householder. The currently valid description of nature under the taxon Picea rubens by the American botanist Charles Sprague Sargent was published in 1899.

Other synonyms for the type are:

  • Picea australis Small 1903
  • Picea nigra ( Aiton ) Link var rubra ( Duroi ) Engelmann
  • Picea rubra ( Duroi ) Link 1831 not A.Dietrich 1824.


The holdings of the American red spruce in the Appalachian Mountains that had already shrunk by forest fires and land clearing at a fraction of their original stocks, suffer verursachtem by air pollution acid rain.

The oldest known copy of the American Red spruce was about 445 years old.

The American Red spruce is the provincial tree of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.


  • Alan Mitchell, translated and edited by Gerd Krüssmann: The forest and park trees in Europe: a field guide for dendrologists and nature lovers. Paul Parey, Hamburg and Berlin 1975, ISBN 3-490-05918-2.
  • Christopher J. Earle: Picea rubens. In: The Gymnosperm Database. January 20, 2011, accessed on 8 November 2011 ( English).
  • Barton M. Blum: Red Spruce. USDA Forest Service; Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry, accessed on 8 November 2011 ( English).