Native to the west coast of North America, spruce owes its name to the coastal island of Sitka, Alaska.
The natural range of Sitka spruce extends in a narrow strip along the west coast of North America from northern California to Alaska. Sitka Spruce is found up to 80 km inland and up to 500 m in elevation. In Europe, it has been introduced into regions with a marked oceanic climate.
Sitka's Spruce can grow on highlight acidic, poor and more or less hydromorphic soils ( regular saturation in water), where others tree species can't!
This large conifer of the Pinaceae family was studied by the Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies at the end of the 18th century. Picea sitchensis can reach 80 meters in height, in its natural air. This thorny tree is characterized by its great longevity and very rapid initial growth. The average diameter of its trunk is three meters and can go up to five!
Its exterior appearance easily distinguishes it from common spruce. Its bark has irregular scales on the surface, the edges of which peel off. Its needles have two glaucous stripes on the inner side and are 15 to 25 mm long. They are arranged in a brush around the twig, which gives it the appearance of a bottle brush. Its cones are scanty with supple, small scales, without bracts, buff-brown and pendant.
This thorny tree appreciates humid and temperate forests close to the ocean, and tolerates salt air fairly well. On the other hand, it does not grow beyond 500 meters of altitude. In France, it is mainly planted in Brittany, Normandy, Picardy, the Basque Country and in the Massif Central. It requires a lot of light and atmospheric humidity. It needs 900 mm of water each year, with a minimum of 130 mm in summer. Sitka spruce therefore prefers cold and wind to summer droughts. He is thus able to live 700 years. Very rustic, it accepts the most diverse grounds. Its roots do well in deep, acidic soils, without excess, aerated and well supplied with water.
Sitka spruce is a very important tree for the lumber industry . The performance of its wood is similar to that of common spruce, except that its heartwood is pinkish. We therefore use its wood in carpentry and stationery, but also to make the soundboard of certain musical instruments: piano, harp, violin, guitar. It is also used in archery, for the manufacture of arrows. For the construction of wooden aircraft structures, it serves as a benchmark.
In France, this type of reforestation is however penalized by its rapid growth. Large rings lead to a significant drop in the density and mechanical properties of the wood. We prefer to use it in construction when it has fine rings. It is then a first choice wood.
The spruce, which many texts and popular traditions equate with the fir, is the tree of birth . In ancient Greece, it is dedicated to Artemis, the moon goddess who presides over childbirth and protects Woman. The Germanic peoples used to collect pine cones, symbols of fertility. Planting a tree to celebrate new life is the original birth gift .
Planting a tree for the birth of a baby is a sustainable and symbolic gesture. For the child, like the tree, life begins: Over time, both will grow!