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Red Spruce

Picea rubens Sarg.

Brief Summary

    Picea rubens: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Picea rubens, commonly known as red spruce, is a species of spruce native to eastern North America, ranging from eastern Quebec and Nova Scotia, west to the Adirondack Mountains and south through New England along the Appalachians to western North Carolina. This species is also known as yellow spruce, West Virginia spruce, eastern spruce, and he-balsam.

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors
    Picea rubens, generally called red spruce, is one of the more important coniferous trees in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Also called yellow spruce, West Virginia spruce, eastern spruce, and he-balsam, it is a medium-size tree that may grow to be more than 400 years old. Red spruce wood is used for making paper, for construction lumber, and for musical stringed instruments. Its many uses rival those of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). The range of red spruce extends from the Maritime Provinces of Canada west to Maine, southern Quebec, and southeastern Ontario, and south into central New York, eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and Massachusetts. It also grows south along the Appalachian Mountains in extreme western Maryland, and eastern West Virginia, and north and west in Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Red spruce sometimes occurs in pure stands, and is a major component of several forest types, or it may be found mixed with other conifers and hardwoods. Its shallow root system, thin bark, and flammable needles make trees of all ages very susceptible to fire damage. The acreage of red spruce originally present in the southern Appalachians has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was by fire and clear cutting; it is also susceptible to damage from acid rain. The most important insect enemy of red spruce is the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana. Although red spruce is much less vulnerable to damage than balsam fir or white spruce, largely due to later bud flushing in the spring, much damage and mortality occur in stands containing large quantities of mature balsam fir. Red spruce wood is light in color and weight, straight-grained, and resilient. The wood of red spruce, white spruce (Picea glauca), and black spruce (Picea mariana) cannot be distinguished with certainty by either gross characteristics or minute anatomy, and all three are usually marketed simply as eastern spruce. Chief uses are for lumber and pulpwood, with limited amounts going into poles piling, boatbuilding stock, and cooperage stock. Flakeboard and plywood have been made from spruce in recent years. It is also the preferred wood for piano sounding boards, guitars, mandolins, organ pipes, and violin bellies. A unique use of red spruce was spruce gum, an exudate that accumulates on trunk wounds. This was the raw material for a flourishing chewing-gum industry in Maine during the last half of the 19th century and early years of this century. Forests with red spruce support diverse wildlife, including many songbirds, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, and woodcock, and provide important winter cover for deer and moose. Bird, porcupines, bears, deer, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and red squirrels all browse or eat various parts of the trees, included twigs, foliage, and vegetative and reproductive buds. Mice and voles consume and store significant amounts of spruce seeds in preference to those of balsam fir, suggesting one reason for the low ratio of spruce to fir seedlings commonly found in naturally regenerated stands. Excerpted and edited from Blum 1990.
    Brief Summary
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Pinaceae -- Pine family

    Barton M. Blum

    Red spruce (Picea rubens), also known as yellow spruce, West Virginia spruce, eastern spruce, and he-balsam, is one of the more important conifers in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. It is a medium-size tree that may grow to be more than 400 years old. The wood of red spruce is light in color and weight, straight grained, and resilient. It is used for making paper, for construction lumber, and for musical stringed instruments. Its many uses rival those of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) (21).

Comprehensive Description

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Red spruce occurs from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and New
    Brunswick, west to Maine, southern Quebec, and southeastern Ontario, and
    south to central New York, northeastern Pennsylvania, northern New
    Jersey, and northeastern Massachusetts. Its range extends south in the
    Appalachian Mountains of extreme western Maryland, eastern West
    Virginia, northern and western Virginia, western North Carolina, and
    eastern Tennessee [48].
    Occurrence in North America
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    CT ME MD MA NH NJ NY NC PA TN
    VT VA WV NB NS PE PQ
    Distribution
    provided by Silvics of North America
    The range of red spruce extends from the Maritime Provinces of Canada west to Maine, southern Quebec, and southeastern Ontario, and south into central New York, eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and Massachusetts. It also grows south along the Appalachian Mountains in extreme western Maryland, and eastern West Virginia, and north and west in Virginia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Discontinuous stands may also be found in Haliburton Township, in Algonquin Provincial Park, and near Sturgeon Falls in Nippising Township, and in the southwestern Parry Sound District in Ontario, Canada.


    - The native range of red spruce.

Morphology

    Comments
    provided by eFloras
    Throughout the Appalachians, trees of Picea rubens are dying, possibly as a consequence of environmental pollution. In eastern Canada this species hybridizes to a limited extent with P . mariana (A.G. Gordon 1976).

    Red spruce ( Picea rubens ) is the provincial tree of Nova Scotia.

    Description
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: duff, tree

    Red spruce is a native, evergreen conifer. It is a medium-sized tree,
    attaining a maximum height of 115 feet (35 m); the average mature height
    is 60 to 75 feet (18-23 m). The ovulate cones are 1.3 to 1.5 inches
    (3-4 cm) long, with rigid rounded scales that are often slightly toothed
    on the edges. Red spruce is very shallow rooted; most of the feeding
    roots occur in the duff and top few centimeters of soil. In Maine, the
    average depth of roots was 13 inches (33 cm), with a maximum depth of 22
    inches (56 cm) [9]. Red spruce is long-lived, often achieving ages
    greater than 350 years [1].
    Description
    provided by eFloras
    Trees to 40m; trunk to 1m diam.; crown narrowly conic. Bark gray-brown to reddish brown. Branches horizontally spreading; twigs not pendent, rather stout, yellow-brown, densely pubescent to glabrate. Buds reddish brown, 5--8mm, apex acute. Leaves 0.8--2.5(--3)cm, 4-angled in cross section, somewhat flexuous, yellow-green to dark green, not glaucous, bearing stomates on all surfaces, apex mostly acute to sharp-pointed. Seed cones 2.3--4.5(--5)cm; scales broadly fan-shaped, broadest near apex, 8--12 ´ 8--12mm, stiff, margin at apex entire to irregularly toothed. 2 n =24.
    Physical Description
    provided by USDA PLANTS text
    Tree, Evergreen, Monoecious, Habit erect, Trees without or rarely having knees, Tree with bark rough or scaly, Young shoots 3-dimensional, Buds resinous, Buds not resinous, Leaves needle-like, Leaves alternate, Needle-like leaf margins entire (use magnification), Leaf apex acute, Leaves < 5 cm long, Leaves < 10 cm long, Leaves yellow-green above, Leaves yellow-green below, Leaves not blue-green, Needle-like leaves 4-angled, Needle-like leaves not twisted, Needle-like leaf habit erect, Needle-like leaf habit drooping, Needle-like leaves per fascicle mostly 1, Needle-like leaf sheath early deciduous, Needle-like leaf sheath persistent, Twigs pubescent, Twigs densely pubescent, Twigs viscid, Twigs not viscid, Twigs with peg-like projections or large fascicles after needles fall, Berry-like cones orange, Woody seed cones < 5 cm long, Bracts of seed cone included, Seeds brown, Seeds winged, Seeds unequally winged, Seed wings prominent, Seed wings equal to or broader than body.

Diagnostic Description

    Synonym
    provided by eFloras
    Picea australis Small; P. nigra (Aiton) Link var. rubra (DuRoi) Engelmann; P. rubra (DuRoi) Link 1831, not A.Dietrich 1824

Habitat

    Climate
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Red spruce grows best in a cool, moist climate. The climate of the northeastern part of its range can be summarized as follows: annual precipitation (total), 910 to 1320 mm (36 to 52 in); annual snowfall, 203 to 406 cm (80 to 160 in); days with snow cover, 100 to 140; January temperature, -7° to -1° C (20° to 30° F) maximum and -18° to -13° C (0° to 8° F) minimum; July temperature, 21° to 27° C (70° to 80° F) maximum, and 11° to 14° C (52° to 58° F) minimum; frost-free days, 90 to 150 (28). Red spruce attains maximum development in the higher parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains where the atmosphere is more humid and the rainfall heavier during the growing season than in other parts of its range (47). Local extension of the range of red spruce, as along the southern Maine coast, is related to marine exposure, which provides a cool growing season and ample moisture supply (8).

    Habitat & Distribution
    provided by eFloras
    Upper montane to subalpine forests; 0--2000m; St. Pierre and Miquelon; N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Conn., Maine, Md., Mass., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va.
    Habitat characteristics
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cover, organic soils

    Red spruce grows in climates with cool, moist summers and cold winters
    [74]. In the northeastern United States, the mean annual precipitation
    ranges from 36 to 52 inches (910-1,320 mm) and is often higher in the
    mountainous terrain where red spruce occurs, due to fog drip. Snow
    cover averages 80 to 160 inches (203-406 cm), with 100 to 140 days of
    snow cover per year [9].

    Most of the soils on which red spruce occurs are developed from glacial
    deposits. The most productive soils are derived from parent materials
    of unsorted glacial drift and till deposited on the midslopes of hills
    and mountains. Soils on red spruce sites are usually acid Spodosols,
    Inceptisols, and sometimes Histosols with thick mor humus and a
    well-defined A2 horizon. Soil pH ranges from 4.0 to 5.5. Red spruce is
    often found on sites that are unfavorable for other species, such as
    organic soils overlying rocks in mountainous locales, on steep rocky
    slopes with thin soils, and in wet bottomlands [9].

    In the northern part of its range, red spruce occurs at elevations
    ranging from sea level to 4,500 feet (0-1,370 m), above which it is
    usually replaced by balsam fir (Abies balsamea). The elevational
    zonation of species is defined as follows [67]:

    up to 1,485 feet (450 m) northern hardwoods (hemlock phase)
    1,486 to 2,508 feet (451- 760 m) northern hardwoods (spruce phase)
    2,508 to 4,026 feet (761-1,220 m) subalpine (spruce-fir phase)
    4,027 to 4,785 feet (1,221-1,450 m) subalpine (fir phase)

    In the southern Appalachian Mountains, red spruce occurs at elevations
    from about 3,200 feet to 6,200 feet (980-1,890 m); above 6,200 feet
    (1,890 m), red spruce tends is usually replaced by Fraser fir (Abies
    fraseri) [59].
    Habitat: Cover Types
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    5 Balsam fir
    12 Black spruce
    16 Aspen
    17 Pin cherry
    18 Paper birch
    21 Eastern white pine
    22 White pine - hemlock
    23 Eastern hemlock
    24 Hemlock - yellow birch
    25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    27 Sugar maple
    30 Red spruce - yellow birch
    31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
    32 Red spruce
    33 Red spruce - balsam fir
    34 Red spruce - Fraser fir
    35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
    37 Northern white-cedar
    60 Beech - sugar maple
    107 White spruce
    108 Red maple
    Habitat: Ecosystem
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

    FRES10 White - red - jack pine
    FRES11 Spruce - fir
    FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
    FRES19 Aspen - birch
    Habitat: Plant Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

    More info for the term: forest

    K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
    K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
    K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
    Key Plant Community Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: bryophytes, codominant, cover, fern, forest, lichens, natural, shrub, tree

    Red spruce is a common dominant or codominant in the red spruce and the
    spruce-fir forests of the northeastern United States and adjacent
    Canada.

    Shrub associates of red spruce in the Adirondack Mountains of New York
    include red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), dwarfed blackberry (R. pubescens),
    hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), and
    American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis). Ground layer herbs
    include wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), Aster acuminatus, yellow
    beadlily (Clintonia borealis), and common wood-sorrel (Oxalis montana).
    Common bryophytes found in old-growth red spruce forests in the
    Adirondacks include Brotherella recurvans, Schreber's moss (Pleurozium
    schreberi), Polytrichum ohioense, mountain fern moss (Hylocomium
    splendens), Bazzania trilobata, ptilium (Ptilium crista-castrensis),
    Drepanocladus uncinatus, Dicranum scoparium, and D. montanum [47].

    In the southern Appalachian Mountains, arboreal associates include
    Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra), sweet
    birch (Betula lenta), and black cherry (Prunus serotina) in addition to
    those found in the northern part of its range [59,79,87]. Understory
    associates in openings include rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.),
    American mountain-ash (Sorbus americana), and wild raisin (Viburnum
    cassinoides). Other understory associates include highbush cranberry
    (Viburnum edule), mountain holly (Ilex montana), mountain laurel (Kalmia
    latifolia), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), pin cherry (Prunus
    pensylvanica), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), raspberries (Rubus
    spp.), and blueberries and huckleberries (Vaccinium spp.). In closed
    red spruce stands, mosses, lichens, and clubmosses predominate in the
    understory along with wood sorrel (Oxalis spp.), trillium (Trillium
    spp.), and checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) [79].

    Publications describing habitat or cover types in which red spruce is
    dominant or codominant include:

    (1) Proceedings of the Region 9 Land Systems conference on the White
    Mountain National Forest [5]
    (2) The Hubbard Brook ecosystem study: composition and dynamics of the
    tree stratum [11]
    (3) Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir area of the Great
    Smoky Mountains National Park [14]
    (4) Spruce-fir forests of the coast of Maine [16]
    (5) Forest type studies in the Adirondack region [31]
    (6) The classification and evaluation of site for forestry [33]
    (7) The identification and description of forest sites [34]
    (8) Old-growth forests of Adirondack Park, New York [47]
    (9) Vegetation-environment relationships in virgin, middle elevation
    forests in the Adirondack Mountains, New York [68]
    (10) Natural ecological communities of New York State [71]
    Soils and Topography
    provided by Silvics of North America
    The soils where red spruce and its associates grow are mostly acid Spodosols, Inceptisols, and sometimes Histosols with a thick mor humus and a well-defined A2 horizon- characteristics commonly associated with abundant rainfall, cool climates, and softwood cover (11). Commonly, the pH of these soils ranges from 4.0 to 5.5. In northern New England, red spruce is found predominantly on shallow till soils that average about 46 cm (18 in) to a compact layer. It will grow on many sites unfavorable for other species, such as organic soils overlying rocks in mountainous locations, steep rocky slopes, thin soils, and wet bottomland (26). On poorly drained soils, lack of aeration limits growth (22).

    In the northern part of its range, red spruce grows at elevations from near sea level to about 1370 m (4,500 ft) (22). In the southern Appalachian Mountains it comes in at elevations as low as 1370 m (4,500 ft) and from there to about 1520 m (5,000 ft) it is mixed with hardwoods and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). At 1520 m (5,000 ft) balsam fir (Abies balsamea) joins with red spruce to form the dominant spruce-fir climax type. In West Virginia, spruce-fir stands are found as low as 980 m (3,200 ft). Above 1890 m (6,200 ft) in the southern Appalachians, red spruce appears less frequently than Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) (47). In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, balsam fir is the predominant species above 1220 m (4,000 ft) but red spruce is well represented from about 790 to 1010 m (2,600 to 3,300 ft) (27).

Associations

    Associated Forest Cover
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Pure stands of red spruce comprise the forest cover type Red Spruce (Society of American Foresters Type 32). Red spruce is also a major component in 5 and a minor component in 13 other forest cover types (10):

        5  Balsam Fir
      12  Black Spruce
      16  Aspen
      17  Pin Cherry
      18  Paper Birch
      21  Eastern White Pine
      22  White Pine-Hemlock
      23  Eastern Hemlock
      25  Sugar Maple-Beech-Yellow Birch
      30  Red Spruce-Yellow Birch
      31  Red Spruce-Sugar Maple-Beech
      33  Red Spruce-Balsam Fir
      34  Red Spruce-Fraser Fir
      35  Paper Birch-Red Spruce-Balsam Fir
      37  Northern White-Cedar
      60  Beech-Sugar Maple
    107  White Spruce
    108  Red Maple

    Some of the shrubs associated with red spruce are: blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides), witherod (V. cassinoides), rhodora (Rhododendron canadense), lambkill (Kalmia angustifolia), mountain-holly (Nemopanthus mucronata), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus var. strigosus), creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula), wintergreen (G. procumbens), fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), gooseberry (Ribes spp.), witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), downey serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), and Canada yew (Taxus canadensis).

    A number of mosses and herbs are also found growing in red spruce forest types. Certain mosses, herbs, and shrubs, however, have been shown to be related to site quality of red spruce (22). The three main associations, Hylocomium/Oxalis, Oxalis/Cornus, and Viburnum/0xalis, in that order, indicate increasing site productivity and increasing hardwood competition. Similar site types in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains of North

    Carolina include Hylocomium/Oxalis on north-facing slopes above 1520 m (5,000 ft), Oxalis/Dryopteris at high elevations and all exposures, and the best site type for red spruce and Fraser fir, Viburnum/Vaccinium/Dryopteris (47).

    The Oxalis/Cornus association is considered the best for growing conditions in the northern part of the range. On these sites the soil is rich enough for red spruce but not fertile enough for the tolerant hardwoods to offer serious competition (22).

Diseases and Parasites

    Damaging Agents
    provided by Silvics of North America
    The shallow root system, thin bark, and flammable needles of red spruce make trees of all ages very susceptible to fire damage (11). The acreage of red spruce originally present in the southern Appalachians has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was by fire and clearcutting (22). Many former spruce sites are occupied by inferior tree species, blackberries, and ferns after 20 years (47).

    The most important insect enemy of red spruce is the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana. Although red spruce is much less vulnerable to damage than balsam fir or white spruce, largely due to later bud flushing in the spring (3), much damage and mortality occur in stands containing large quantities of mature balsam fir. Blum and McLean (4) suggest that factors such as stand age, species composition, density, and vigor contribute to the vulnerability of spruce-fir stands to budworm damage and suggest steps to alleviate damage. Additional, detailed information may also be found in Sanders, et al. (42) for spruce-fir stands in the Northeast, the Lake States, and Canada.

    The eastern spruce beetle, Dendroctonus rufipennis, damages mature trees of red spruce. Two species of sawflies, the European spruce sawfly, Diprion hercyniae, and the native yellowheaded spruce sawfly, Pikonema alaskensis, have severely defoliated red spruce in localized areas (22). The eastern spruce gall adelgid, Adelges abietis, can be a serious pest on spruce when abundant. The pine leaf adelgid, Pineus pinifoliae, forms unsightly but relatively harmless conelike galls on red and black spruce (Picea mariana), which are alternate hosts (46).

    Red spruce has few diseases. Needle cast caused by Lirula macrospora may result in severe defoliation of the lower crown and a subsequent reduction of growth. Phellinus pini and Phaeolus schweinitzii, the most destructive of red spruce wood-rotting fungi, are usually confined to overmature or damaged trees. Climacocystis borealis causes butt rot in overmature trees (22). Trees are occasionally attacked by Armillaria mellea and Inonotus tomentosa.

    All along the eastern Appalachian mountain chain, from the New England states to Georgia, growth has declined in high-elevation red spruce since the 1960's (25). In recent years, this decline has been accompanied by increased mortality and crown damage in high-elevation red spruce. Apparently, no significant natural biotic or abiotic causal agents have been identified, although it has been hypothesized that interaction among naturally occurring insect and disease factors and anthropogenic air pollutants, or air pollutants acting alone, are at the root of the problem. Sulphur dioxide (S02), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and volatile organic compounds are the pollutants of primary concern; secondary pollutants such as ozone and nitric and sulfuric acids are also believed to be important factors (29).

    Growth decline and mortality in low-elevation red spruce in northern New England, while increasing in some areas, appear to be within the normal ranges for trees and forests of various ages, compositions, and density. However, some foliar symptoms have been detected in both red spruce and white pine, particularly from ozone exposure.

    Red spruce is occasionally infected with eastern dwarf mistletoe, Arceuthobium pusillum, a parasite causing growth reduction, tree mortality, and degradation of wood quality (24).

    Mice and voles have been found to consume and store significant amounts of spruce seeds in preference to those of balsam fir, suggesting one reason for the low ratio of spruce to fir seedlings commonly found in naturally regenerated stands (1,23). Wildlife damage to the terminal buds of young spruce, presumably by birds, also has been noted (2). Some injury and mortality are also caused occasionally by porcupines, bears, deer, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers (11). Red squirrels clip twigs and terminals and eat reproductive and vegetative buds (41).

General Ecology

    Fire Ecology
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: avoidance, fire frequency, fire regime, forest, formation, frequency, natural, severity, tree

    Red spruce forests persist without fire. Red spruce is easily killed by
    fire due to its thin bark, shallow roots, flammable needles, and lack of
    self-pruning [9,23,39]. Its slow early growth rate delays the formation
    of a corky layer, which increases the fire susceptibility of young trees
    [39]. In a study based on a survey of foresters, Starker [76] rated the
    fire resistance of 22 New England tree species based on fire mortality
    and fire avoidance (occurrence in habitat that does not burn very
    often). Red spruce was not resistant in terms o fire mortality but
    moderately or very resistant in terms of fire avoidance, and was ranked
    13th overall.

    Red spruce habitat is subject to few fires; fires that occurred in
    presettlement times were usually of low severity [1]. Saunders [73]
    noted that old-timers claimed that forest fires would stop when they
    reached the spruce-fir forest boundary. Electrical storms are common in
    this area but are usually accompanied by sufficient rain, and fuels are
    usually moist [32]. Severe surface fires probably occurred
    infrequently, during periods of prolonged drought, and usually affected
    forests that were breaking up due to wind, ice storm damage, or similar
    events that generate surface fuels [25,32,60,61,87].

    The estimated natural fire return intervals for the northeastern United
    States and adjacent Canada range from 330 to 3,300 or more years
    [25,32,51,52,84]. Estimates of natural fire frequency have been
    complicated by human activities. Logging in these forests has resulted
    in an increase in fire frequency and intensity, particularly in logging
    slash [18,32,52]. The catastrophic fires of the 19th and 20th centuries
    can be attributed to human activities [21,32,52]. However, even with
    the increase in fires due to human activity, most fires are small and
    quickly suppressed. There should be sufficient time between fires for
    red spruce to regain dominance on most sites unless deliberately and/or
    repeatedly burned.

    It has been suggested that, in presettlement forests, the increase of
    dead fuels following spruce budworm outbreaks increased the likelihood
    of fire [21,25,32]. Such outbreaks are more common in
    balsam-fir-dominated forests than in red-spruce-dominated forests, but
    the two species usually occur together, in varying proportions.

    Before settlement by Europeans, forests in northern New England, the
    Adirondack Mountains, and the hillier sections of southern New England
    and Pennsylvania were not deliberately burned by Native Americans as
    were other areas in the northeastern United States [18].

    FIRE REGIMES :
    Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
    species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
    "Find FIRE REGIMES".
    Fire Management Considerations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: competition, fire exclusion, fire management, forest, fuel, natural, prescribed fire, tree

    Some managers believe that prescribed fire may be a useful silvicultural
    tool for managing red spruce on some sites. On such sites, the exposed
    mineral soil must have plentiful moisture, soil temperatures must be
    moderate, and competition must be minimal [65]. In general, however,
    fires in red spruce habitat are of little silvicultural value [87].
    Slash burning following logging kills advance reproduction and creates
    rank postfire vegetation that delays any new seedling establishment
    [39].

    The fire management plan for Acadia National Park, Maine, dictates the
    suppression of natural fires. Prescribed fires may be used on occasion
    to reduce fuels [61]. Patterson and others [60] estimated fuel loadings
    for a number of stands in Acadia National Park that contained red
    spruce. They concluded that fire exclusion was probably resulting in
    increased fuel loads.

    Alexander [4] compiled slash fuel indices for red spruce and compared
    actual fire spread, intensity, and slash and organic layer depletions
    with those predicted by the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System.
    Freeman and others [24] developed equations to determine average crown
    weight per tree as a function of tree height and diameter for use in a
    method to predict slash weight after logging red spruce.
    Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    More info for the term: phanerophyte

    Phanerophyte
    Immediate Effect of Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: litter, tree

    Red spruce is easily killed by fire [49]. Surface or ground fires that
    consume the litter and organic layers covering the superficial roots of
    red spruce are almost certain to severely injure the roots [39]. Fire
    kills mature trees by exposing roots, subjecting the tree to water
    stress and/or windthrow, which may result in the eventual death of the
    tree [39,87].
    Life Form
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: tree

    Tree
    Plant Response to Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: duff, ferns, forest, heath, seed, shrubs, succession, tree

    Red spruce does not sprout. Seed germination is greater on burned areas
    with exposed mineral soil than in duff; mortality, however, is also
    greater due to increased surface temperature and drought [63].

    Burned red spruce or spruce-fir stands are initially restocked by aspen
    (Populus spp.) or birch (Betula spp.) via wind-disseminated seed; paper
    birch (Betula papyrifera)-aspen stands are particularly diagnostic of
    fire in upland red spruce forests [52]. Red spruce seedlings appear a
    few years after fire, developing as an understory in the aspen-birch
    complex, and eventually penetrate the overstory after 50 or 60 years.
    Birch and aspen become decadent after 75 to 80 years and red spruce or
    red spruce and balsam fir regain dominance if left undisturbed
    [49,52,65]. On better sites, northern hardwoods, chiefly sugar maple
    and American beech, may replace red spruce, and in some areas, balsam
    fir will dominate the late postfire succession. Postharvest/postfire
    restocking by red spruce is extremely slow where the organic layers are
    destroyed by severe fire (particularly where harvest has been heavy)
    [49].

    In Nova Scotia, mature spruce forests have few herbs and shrubs in the
    understory. After a fire, herbs increase in the first 6 years and
    dominate for 40 or more years while conifers slowly establish [54].
    After fire in the southern Appalachians, blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and
    red raspberry colonize the site. Pin cherry and yellow birch follow.
    Blackberry and raspberry are too competitive for red spruce and must be
    shaded out by the hardwoods before red spruce can establish [39].

    In West Virginia, postlogging and postfire succession in red spruce
    forests follows a similar pattern: ferns and raspberry are followed by
    other shrubs, then hardwoods (particularly hawthorn [Crataegus spp.]),
    and eventually spruce. In many areas, this successional pattern has
    been extremely slow; heaths or barrens form that do not appear as if
    they will ever return to forest [13]. Martin [54] studied
    postlogging/postfire succession in Nova Scotia and found that red spruce
    was present on most sites after the second postfire year, becoming more
    numerous and dominant in the later seres. He concluded that repeated
    heavy cuttings and light fires on the poorer soils of the southern
    upland of Nova Scotia encourages the invasion of heath plants, which
    limits the rate and amount of tree regeneration.
    Post-fire Regeneration
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: root crown, secondary colonizer

    Tree without adventitious-bud root crown
    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
    Reaction to Competition
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Red spruce is classified as shade tolerant in the United States and tolerant or very tolerant in Canada. Opinions differ as to whether red spruce is more tolerant than balsam fir, but the relative tolerance may vary with soil fertility and climate (22).

    The species' chief competition comes from balsam fir and hardwoods that produce heavy shade, like beech and maple. Competition from aspen, birch, and other thin-crowned species is not so severe. Red spruce prunes itself about as well as most softwoods in dense stands. As much as one-third of the live crown may be pruned artificially without seriously affecting radial growth (5).

    A number of studies have demonstrated the ability of red spruce to respond to release after many years of suppression. The vigor of this response does decline somewhat with age, however, and older trees may require about 5 years to recover before showing accelerated growth (7). Reduction of growth to about 2.5 cm (1 in) of diameter in 25 years, for a duration of 100 years, represents about the limit of suppression for red spruce. Many of its associated tree species such as balsam fir and hemlock may outgrow red spruce after release (22).

    Red spruce may be grown successfully using even-age silvicultural prescriptions (11,12). Red spruce is very shallow-rooted, however, making it subject to windthrow, a major silvicultural constraint in the management of the species. As a general rule, it is recommended that no more than one-fourth to one-half of the basal area be removed in the partial harvest of a spruce-fir stand, depending on site, to avoid excessive windthrow damage.

    Most of the major forest cover types previously listed in which red spruce is a component are considered either climax or subclimax.

    Regeneration Processes
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cone, duff, forest, litter, seed, tree

    Red spruce reproduces exclusively by seed. The first cone crop is
    usually produced when the crown first reaches direct light [27,39].
    Therefore, red spruce can bear cones as early as 15 to 20 years of age;
    cone production peaks about 15 years later. In dense, even-aged stands,
    full cone crops are rare until the trees are 40 to 50 years old [39].
    Good seed crops are produced every 3 to 8 years, with light crops in
    intervening years. Cones are dropped shortly after they are mature [9].
    The seeds are wind or rain disseminated. The maximum distance for
    dispersal by wind is approximately 201 feet (61 m) [27]. Seeds do not
    exhibit dormancy. Most germinate the spring following dispersal;
    occasionally germination will occur in the fall soon after seeds drop
    from the tree. Seeds are usually not viable after 1 year. Germination
    is largely controlled by moisture availability. Seeds will germinate in
    almost any medium except sod. Seeds that germinate in thick duff are
    subject to overheating and/or drought mortality. Drought and
    frost-heave are the major causes of seedling mortality the first year
    [9].

    Successful reproduction appears to depend more on seedling survival than
    on germination requirements [9]. Seedling establishment is usually best
    on shallow, less fertile soils that discourage competitive hardwoods
    [87]. The primary roots of red spruce seedlings do not penetrate litter
    and forest duff to any depth [38]. Red spruce seedlings have a root
    system of finely branched rootlets and no strong laterals; they depend
    entirely on the humus for nutrients and water [57].
    Rooting Habit
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Spruce and fir are shallow-rooted, with most of the feeding roots in the duff and the top few centimeters of mineral soil (11). The average rooting depth for all sites in Maine was found to be 33 cm (13 in), with a maximum of 56 cm (22 in) (22).

    Successional Status
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    More info for the terms: climax, cover, hardwood, tree

    On shallow, acidic, glacial till soils, red spruce is considered climax.
    It is usually subclimax on fertile, well-drained slopes and on abandoned
    fields and pastures where is is replaced by shade-tolerant hardwoods
    such as sugar maple and beech. Other types, such as red spruce-balsam
    fir and red spruce-yellow birch are usually climax [20].

    Red spruce is tolerant of shade. Seedlings of red spruce can establish
    in as little as 10 percent of full sunlight, but for optimum growth, at
    least 50 percent of full sunlight is needed [9,75,81]. Growth tends to
    be suppressed in shade, but such suppression can persist for many years
    without killing the tree. For example, suppressed understory
    individuals may be 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) tall, and be more than 50
    years old. In comparison, open-grown red spruce can reach sawtimber
    size at 50 years [9,29].

    Red spruce responds to canopy removal even after many years of
    suppression. The taller and older a seedling or sapling is, the greater
    is its response to release, up to about 55 years of age after which
    response to release starts to decline. However, the amount of response
    does not revert to seedling levels until the tree is around 100 years of
    age. Umbrella-shaped saplings 40 to 80 years old that have been
    suppressed will respond to release after a delay of several years, and
    in fact have an advantage because they are taller than smaller,
    healthier saplings which respond more quickly to canopy opening. More
    than half of mature red spruce second growth arises from larger but
    suppressed advance growth, as opposed to having arisen from small
    advance growth or new seedlings [16]. Upon release, 60-year-old red
    spruce growth exceeds that of same-age balsam fir and therefore tends to
    dominate the canopy [56].

    Leak [44] defined red spruce in New Hampshire as a dominating climax
    species on shallow, dry, wet, or poorly aerated soils; it is a minor
    component in young stands but increases markedly over time until it is a
    canopy dominant. He estimated that, if undisturbed, red spruce can
    reach densities of 70 to 80 percent in a minimum of 250 years. Red
    spruce is a long-lived species and, once established, persists as a
    dominant for a long time.

    Davis [16] observed young spruce-fir stands in coastal Maine originating
    in open sites and as the understory to early seral hardwoods such as
    paper birch. The young, open-grown stands may be dominated by white
    spruce, red spruce, or balsam fir in any proportions. A spruce-fir
    stand originating as understory tends to be dominated by red spruce
    and/or balsam fir, though white spruce is often present. Moore [58]
    found red spruce forests to be even-aged in groups, indicating that
    establishment and/or canopy achievement tends to occur in openings.

    Red spruce and red spruce-fir cover types are self-maintaining. Stand
    composition may vary with stand age. Both red spruce and its two fir
    associates (balsam and Fraser) are shade tolerant, and both spruce and
    fir reproduction are found under spruce-fir canopies [6,16]. In the
    Catskill Mountains of New York, balsam fir reproduction predominated
    under both spruce and balsam fir stands. Both red spruce and balsam fir
    reproduction occurred at low densities under hardwood stands (mostly
    yellow birch) [55]. McIntosh and Hurley [55] do not believe that red
    spruce forests form a self-perpetuating climax in this area. Their
    conclusion may be biased, however, since balsam fir outcompetes red
    spruce in early stages, but is usually overtopped or outcompeted by red
    spruce in more mature forests [16]. Flieger [21] described 350-year-old
    stands of red spruce which were characterized by irregular stocking and
    variable crown heights and widths, with at least two age classes
    apparent. Most virgin red spruce forests are uneven-aged, indicating
    that the forests did no originate following stand-destroying
    disturbances, and that red spruce is able to reproduce under its own
    canopy [52].

Cyclicity

    Phenology
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    Red spruce vegetative buds begin growth from May 26 to June 3 [8].
    Needles are shed early in summer [12]. Reproductive cones open in late
    April to early May [29,72]. Red spruce cones mature the first autumn
    from mid-September to mid-October [29,39]. Dissemination of seeds
    begins soon after cones are ripe and continues until March [29].

Reproduction

    Flowering and Fruiting
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Red spruce is monoecious; male and female flower buds open in May in axils of the previous year's shoots on different branches of the same tree. The pendant male flowers are bright red; female flowers are erect and bright green tinged with purple (21). Although cone buds differentiate as early as July preceding flowering in the following spring, they are difficult to distinguish until September. For experienced workers they provide a possible means of identifying seed years at that time. The cones mature from about mid-September to early October, the autumn following flowering (41). Cones are 3 to 4 cm (1.3 to 1.5 in) long, light reddish brown, with rigid, rounded scales often slightly toothed on the edges. Cones are receptive to pollen when fully open, a condition which lasts for only a few days.

    Seed Production and Dissemination
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Good seed crops occur every 3 to 8 years, with light crops during intervening years (22). Red spruce cones number about 140/liter (5,000/bu), which yields 454 to 680 g (1.0 to 1.5 lb) of seeds. The number of cleaned seeds per kilogram ranges between 220,000 and 637,000 (100,000 and 289,000/lb), with an average of about 306,000 (139,000/lb) (41).

    Red spruce seeds fall about 1.2 m (4 ft) per second in still air; the following formula determines distance of travel for wind- disseminated spruce seeds at various heights (47):

    D = Sh (1.47v)

    Where D = distance in feet which seed will travel, S = number of seconds required for seed to fall from a height of h (ft) on a tree, and v = velocity of the prevailing wind in miles per hour.

    Randall (37), in a study of seed dispersal into clearcut areas, stated that at a distance of 100 m (5 chains or 330 ft) from the timber edge, the number of spruce seeds trapped were more than adequate for regeneration in a good seed year and adequate in an average year. Most of the spruce in the surrounding stands was red spruce.

    Seedling Development
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Most red spruce seeds germinate the spring following dispersal; some, however, may germinate in the fall soon after dropping from the tree. Germination is epigeal. On favorable seedbeds the usual spring germination period is from late May to early July. On duff, which is more subject to surface drying than most other seedbed materials, some seeds may lose viability by midsummer, and some may show delayed germination well into August (22). Little if any viable seeds remain in the forest floor beyond 1 year (13).

    Adequate moisture is the chief factor controlling germination of red spruce. Germination takes place on almost any medium (mineral soil, rotten wood, or shallow duff) except sod. Mineral soil is an excellent seedbed for germination. Generally ample moisture is available and soil temperatures are moderate. Litter and humus are poorer seedbeds because they are likely to be hotter and drier than mineral soil (11). On thicker duff, germination may be poor also because moisture conditions are less favorable. Temperatures of 20° to 30° C (68° to 86° F) are generally favorable for germination. Seeds will not germinate satisfactorily at temperatures below 20° C (68° F) and are permanently injured by long exposure to temperatures higher than 33° C (92° F) (22).

    Germination and initial establishment proceed best under cover. Seedlings can become established under light intensities as low as 10 percent of full sunlight; however, as they develop, they require light intensities of 50 percent or more for optimum growth. Seedlings starting in the open undergo heavy mortality when soil surface temperatures reach 46° to 54° C (115° to 130° F) even for a short time (11). Drought and frost heaving are major causes of mortality the first year. Crushing by hardwood litter and snow are also causes of seedling mortality. Winter drying in some years and locations can cause severe leader damage and dieback.

    Natural reproduction depends more on seedling survival than on requirements for germination. Spruce seedlings have an exceptionally slow-growing, fibrous, shallow root system. Consequently, a critical factor in their survival and establishment is the depth of the 01 organic layers of the soil profile. When the combined thickness of these layers exceeds 5 cm (2 in), spruce seedlings may not reach mineral soil and the moisture necessary to carry them through dry periods. Red spruce seedlings and the commonly associated balsam fir seedlings are similar in many ways and are controlled by the same factors, but as a rule spruce is the weaker, slower growing species during the establishment period (22).

    Seedlings that have attained a height of about 15 cm (6 in) can be considered established. Once established, their early growth is determined largely by the amount and character of overhead competition. Dense growth of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), raspberry, and hardwood sprouts are the chief competition for seedlings on heavily cutover lands; but red spruce survives as much as 145 years of suppression and still responds to release (11,39).

    Compared to its associates, red spruce is one of the last species to start height growth in the spring, usually beginning the first week in June and ending 9 to 11 weeks later. Radial growth usually begins about the second week of June and continues through August (22).

    Vegetative Reproduction
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Red spruce rarely, if ever, layers (15,22,45). Recently developed techniques facilitate propagation from stem cuttings under controlled conditions, particularly juvenile cuttings (7,9,38,45).

Growth

    Growth and Yield
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Red spruce is a medium-size tree at maturity, reaching 30 to 61 cm (12 to 24 in) in d.b.h. and 18 to 23 m (60 to 75 ft) in height in the Northeast, and up to 35 m (115 ft) in the Appalachian Mountains. Its maximum age is about 400 years (22). The American Forestry Association lists a tree 133 cm (52.5 in) in d.b.h. and 33.5 m (110 ft) tall in Great Smoky National Park in North Carolina as the largest living red spruce.

    The rate of red spruce's growth is strongly influenced by light conditions. Although trees can live in dense shade for many years, once they reach sapling to pole stage nearly full sunlight is beneficial. Understory trees no more than 1.2 or 1.5 m (4 to 5 ft) tall may be more than 50 years old, whereas trees of the same age in the open may be approaching small sawtimber size (22).

    Under favorable conditions, red spruce may reach an average d.b.h. of 10 cm (4 in) and height of 7 m (23 ft) in 20 years, and be over 23 cm (9 in) in d.b.h. and 19 m (62 ft) tall in 60 years (22).

    Diameter growth of red spruce has been related to vigor, live crown ratio (ratio of live crown to total height), live crown length, and initial diameter at breast height (6,32). High vigor red spruce with a live crown ratio of 0.5 or better averaged 4.3 cm (1.7 in) of diameter growth in 10 years. Growth rates of trees with smaller crown ratios and less vigorous trees decreased progressively to an average of 0.8 cm (0.3 in) in 10 years for trees of low vigor or with crown ratios smaller than 0.4 (22). A tree classification for red spruce is shown in table 1 (11).

    Table 1- Classification of red spruce trees (11). Tree class
    (rating as
    growing stock)

    Vigor

    Crown class Live
    crown
    ratio¹
    Average 10-year growth in d.b.h. cm in A, superior
    I
    Dominant and
      Intermediate 0.6+ 4.6 1.8
    B, good I
    Dominant and
      Intermediate 0.3 to 0.5 3.3 1.3 C, acceptable II Overtopped
      Intermediate
      Dominant 0.6+
    0.6+
    0.6+ 2.3 0.9 D, inferior Intermediate 0.3 to 0.5 1.5 0.6 E, undesirable
    III Intermediate
    All others 0.3+
    0.3 or less 0.5 0.2 ¹Ratio of live crown to total height. In one study (40), average net annual growth in softwood stands (66 to 100 percent softwood species) that can be expected from stands receiving minimal silvicultural input was found to be about 3.5 m³/ha (50 ft³/acre). In mixed-wood stands (21 to 65 percent softwood species) this dropped to about 2.8 m³/ha (40 ft³/acre), although the majority of the growth was contributed by softwoods. A further breakdown of the data shows the contributions of spruce, most of which was assumed to be red spruce, to be 51 percent in softwood stands and 39 percent in mixed-wood stands.

    Yields per acre, in total volumes of all trees larger than 1.5 cm (0.6 in) in d.b.h. (inside bark and including stump and top but not butt swell), are given in table 2 (33).

    Table 2- Yield of red spruce by age class and site index (adapted from 33) Site index¹
    Age 12.2 m
    or 40 ft 15.2 m
    or 50 ft 18.3 m
    or 60 ft 21.3 m
    or 70 ft yr m³/ha 20 6 8 11 14 40 94 132 164 200 60 244 335 422 507 80 308 424 533 640 100 332 456 575 691 yr ft³/acre 20 80 120 160 200 40 1,350 1,890 2,350 2,850 60 3,490 4,780 6,030 7,240 80 4,400 6,060 7,610 9,150 100 4,740 6,250 8,210 9,870 ¹Base age 50 years when age is measured at d.b.h.- total tree age is estimated to be 65 years at the time. These yields are normal yields from even-aged stands growing primarily on old fields. Therefore, they are higher than yields that might be expected from more irregular stands such as those developing after cutting (22).

    Site index has not been of great utility in rating the potential productivity of spruce-fir sites because of the tolerance of the species and its ability to survive in a suppressed state. Site index at base age 50 years is as good a measure of productivity as any of several growth functions, however (39). Recently, polymorphic site index curves were developed for even-aged spruce and fir stands in northern Maine; they should be valuable for estimating site productivity (20).

    Other yield tables for the Northeast (48) take into consideration stand density, composition, and time since cutting. These tables give merchantable volume of spruce and fir combined in trees 15.2 cm (6 in) in d.b.h. and larger from a 0.3 m (1 ft) stump to a 7.6 cm (3 in) top, diameter inside bark, and are somewhat conservative. Yields of merchantable volume for different stand densities from 10 to 50 years after cutting, where 90 percent of the trees are spruce and fir growing on predominantly softwood sites, are given in table 3.

    Table 3- Merchantable yield of red spruce (adapted from 48) Density index (regional average 100) Years since cut 50 100 150 m³/ha 10 17.1 24.4 29.5 20 29.8 37.7 43.3 30 43.5 52.0 58.0 40 58.1 67.3 73.4 50 73.8 83.1 89.7 ft³/acre 10 245 349 422 20 425 539 618 30 622 743 828 40 830 961 1,049 50 1,054 1,187 1,281 The development of stand projection growth models that permit computer simulation of red spruce tree growth for various management practices and silvicultural treatments over a range of stand conditions has flourished in recent years. For example, the model FIBER was developed in the Northeast (43) for spruce-fir, northern hardwood and a range of Mixedwood forest types between the two. Such models have proved very useful for forest management planning.

    In recent years, interest in total biomass yield and productivity has increased, and in the future is likely to become more important in management considerations. As an example, above-ground biomass and productivity values of typical red spruce stands in Canada are given in table 4 for stands in a steady state, across a moisture regime catena (17).

    Table 4- Aboveground biomass and annual production of all tree components and foliage for red spruce at latitude 45° 30' N. (adapted from 17) Moisture regime
    Biomass Annual
    Production t/ha tons/acre t/ha tons/acre Dry 121.3 54.1 4.5 2.0 Fresh 263.2 117.4 8.7 3.9 Moist 461.3 205.8 9.9 4.4 Wet 164.1 73.2 3.8 1.7

Genetics

    Genetics
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Successful interspecific crosses with Picea rubens as male or female parents have been reported or confirmed for P. mariana, P. omorika, P. glehnii, P. orientalis, and P. koyamai (15); P. sitchensis (14); P. glauca, P. mexicana (16); P. x lutzii Little (P. sitchensis x P. glauca), P. maximowiczii, and P. likiangensis (19).

    Crossability of P. rubens with P. omorika is good with P. mexicana and P. likiangensis moderate; with P. mariana, P. orientalis, P. maximowiczii, and P. glehnii fair to poor; and with P. koyamai, P. sitchensis, P. x lutzii, and P. glauca very poor. Several species fail to cross with P. rubens (15,16,18,19).

    Hybrids between P. rubens and P. mariana occur to some extent in nature, but parental species remain phenotypically pure in their characteristic habitats (15,30,31,34,35).

Management

    Management considerations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: basal area, litter, natural, seed, seed tree, selection, tree

    Silviculture: Various silvicultural systems may be used to manage red
    spruce. Single tree selection, group selection, shelterwood, and strip
    clearcut are all practical harvesting methods. Red spruce is subject to
    windthrow; partial cuttings are recommended not to exceed half of the
    basal area, and a lighter harvest is usually better. Seed tree cuts are
    not recommended [6,9]. Frank and Blum [23] recommend a selection
    silviculture where net growth is maximized by a 10-year, intensive
    selection system. Clearcuts are contraindicated for many soil types and
    fertility levels [35].

    Postharvest red spruce regeneration is entirely dependent on advance
    reproduction. If seedlings are not present at the time of logging, any
    new spruce seedlings will be quickly overtopped and suppressed by faster
    growing hardwoods [17]. Leaf litter may aid in red spruce
    regeneration. Harvesting during the dormant season or allowing
    harvested trees to dry on site has been recommended to increase litter
    [35]. Loucks [53] noted that in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, red
    spruce regeneration is usually good following partial cuts but may be
    lacking in clearcuts.

    The extent of red spruce forests has decreased following extensive
    logging practices and subsequent fire [3]. In the mountains of central
    West Virginia, it is estimated that approximately 500,000 acres (200,000
    ha) of red spruce present in the late 19th century had been reduced to
    less than 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) by 1975, and as little as 17,500
    acres (7,000 ha) in 1978 [10,73].

    Management for wildlife: Harvest practices have an effect on the
    resulting stand structure, and therefore on the numbers and species of
    birds that use red spruce habitats. Crawford and Titterington [15]
    identified five seral stages and the corresponding bird species, and
    made associated recommendations for management of spruce-fir stands.
    They also determined that spruce budworm infestation increases both the
    number and diversity of birds. Dense, young stands of red spruce
    support a higher population of birds but with less diversity than in
    older forests.

    Insects and disease: Red spruce is relatively free from insects and
    diseases until it is mature. Mature trees are susceptible to the
    following insects: spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana), eastern
    spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis), European spruce sawfly (Diprion
    hercyniae), yellowheaded spruce sawfly (Pikonema alaskensis), and
    eastern spruce gall adelgid (Adelges abietis) [9,22,23,30]. Diseases of
    red spruce have been detailed [9,22,23,30,47].

    Red spruce decline: Throughout its range, growth rates of red spruce
    have declined and mortality has increased [36]. This decline is
    apparently more severe at higher elevations, in older stands, and on
    more exposed sites. This decline is not limited to red spruce; balsam
    fir and associated white and black spruce appear to be affected also
    [85]. A number of studies on the causes of red spruce decline have
    failed to make a definitive case for any single cause. There may be no
    single cause or the complexity of the situation may not lend itself to a
    clear cause-effect relationship [36,42,47]. The combination of climatic
    stress and atmospheric pollution is probably the major cause of this
    decline, according to a number of researchers [19,36,41,42]. Numerous
    other causes have been proposed as well, including a natural cycle of
    dieback and recovery [3, 36,]. A survey of the extent and identifiable
    causes of mortality and decline was published in 1985 [85].

Benefits

    Cover Value
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: cover

    Red spruce provides thermal and loafing cover for spruce grouse in
    winter [62].
    Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Spruce grouse browse the leaves and twigs of red spruce [62]. Mice and
    voles consume and store significant amounts of spruce seeds, preferring
    red and white spruce to balsam fir [2]. Birds (particularly crossbills
    or grosbeaks) will clip the terminal buds of young spruce, as will
    porcupines, bears, snowshoe hares, and, rarely, deer [7,55,78]. Red
    squirrels clip twigs and terminal buds and also eat reproductive and
    vegetative buds [7,72].

    In the southern part of its range, red spruce forests are used by only a
    few wildlife species. Many of these species are usually only found
    farther north, such as snowshoe hare, wood warblers and other songbirds,
    rodents, and salamanders [79].
    Other uses and values
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Red spruce gum was formerly collected and processed for chewing gum [29].
    Palatability
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Red spruce is unpalatable to white-tailed deer [78].
    Special Uses
    provided by Silvics of North America
    The wood of red spruce, white spruce (Picea glauca), and black spruce cannot be distinguished with certainty by either gross characteristics or minute anatomy, and all three are usually marketed simply as eastern spruce. Chief uses are for lumber and pulpwood, with limited amounts going into poles piling, boatbuilding stock, and cooperage stock (36) Flakeboard and plywood have been made from spruce in recent years. It is also the preferred wood for piano sounding boards, guitars, mandolins, organ pipes, and violin bellies (21).

    Forest cover types that include red spruce support a wide variety of wildlife. They are particularly important as winter cover for deer and, to a certain extent, moose. Small game includes ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, and woodcock. Many song birds and fur bearers also frequent these forest types (44).

    A unique use of red spruce was spruce gum, an exudate that accumulates on trunk wounds. This was the raw material for a flourishing chewing-gum industry in Maine during the last half of the 19th century and early years of this century (21).

    Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Red spruce is occasionally used for revegetation of coal mine sites in
    West Virginia, primarily at high elevations, but it is of limited value
    for this purpose [82].
    Wood Products Value
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Red spruce is one of the more important timber species in the
    northeastern United States. The wood is light in weight, straight
    grained, and resilient. It is used for paper, construction lumber, and
    is highly preferred for musical instruments [9,29].

Taxonomy

    Common Names
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    red spruce
    yellow spruce
    West Virginia spruce
    eastern spruce
    he-balsam
    blue spruce
    Synonyms
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Picea rubra (Du Roi) Link
    Picea australis Small
    Picea nigra var. rubra Engelmann.
    Taxonomy
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: natural

    The accepted scientific name for red spruce is Picea rubens Sarg. There
    are no subspecies, varieties, or forms [48,64].

    Natural hybrids with black spruce (P. mariana) have been reported
    [9,48].