This mountain native is a medium size tree that grows to 130 feet (40 meters), about half the size of a tall Sitka spruce.
of Engelmann spruce are thin and sharp like other
spruce trees and stick out all around the twig like a bottle
brush. You can easily identify spruce trees by touching their sharp
needles. Also, spruce needles are unique in growing from short, woody
pegs that remain after the needles fall off.
cones are similar
to those of mountain hemlock, but the scales are
paper-thin, narrower and come to a
The the thin,
gray bark breaks into small scales on large trees.
Where it grows:
Engelmann spruce grows in the mountains east of the Cascades crest above 3000
feet (900 meters). Although it is not common in the Cascades, it is more abundant in
the mountains to the east in Idaho and Montana. It
is shade tolerant, and some shade is required for the healthy
development of seedlings. You
find Engelmann spruce growing under a canopy of large trees where it
competes well with other shade-tolerant conifers.
Similar Tree: Sitka spruce grows only at low
elevations along the
Pacific Coast and Columbia River. The easiest
way to distinguish Engelmann spruce from Sitka spruce is by
location. You can also distinguish them by rolling a needle
between your fingers. The flat Sitka needle will not roll, but the
square-shaped Engelmann needle will.
other spruces, Engelmann spruce is used for making paper, lumber, and fine musical instruments
as guitars and violins.
Names: Engelmann spruce is named
after nineteenth-century physician and botanist George
Engelmann. Other common names: Silver spruce, white spruce, and mountain spruce.