Black spruce (Picea mariana)

Black spruce needles photograph; MN DNR, Rick Klevorn
Black spruce cones photograph;  MN DNR, Rick Klevorn

Form

Small tree; straight trunk up to 12" in diameter with somewhat drooping branches; mature tree usually reaches a height of 20' to 30', although under favorable conditions, it can attain a height of 70' to 80'; often associated with tamarack, balsam fir, and white cedar. In cold swamps the growth is practically stagnant and trees 2" in diameter have been found to be 127 years old.

Bark

Grayish to reddish-brown, scaly.

Leaf

Needlelike, bluish green, short, pointed, four-sided; length 1/2"; found scattered thinly over branches.

Fruit (seed)

Cones oval shaped, length 1/2" to 1-1/2"; young cones purple, mature cones dark brown, remaining on trees indefinitely; open in the fall to liberate seeds; seeds small, dark brown, and winged, mature in one season.

Range

Northern and northeastern parts of the state, extending as far south as northern Anoka County; shade tolerant; common marsh or bog species.