Common Name – Sitka Spruce
Irish Name – sprús sitceach
Latin Name – Picea sitchensis
A member of the Pinaceae family, the Sitka Spruce can grow to almost one – hundred meters tall and live up to seven – hundred years. This tree can be identified by its straight, needle-like leaves, flattened and sharp. Pollinated by wind, female flowers develop into cylindrical, green cones which ripen to a pale brown in autumn. The seeds within the cones are small and winged.
Spruce is grown for timber in upland plantations, preferring deep, moist, well-drained soils. It tends to flourish on damper and elevated sites. The Sitka’s shallow roots and thin bark can make it vulnerable to high winds and fires. Sitka’s wood is light, strong and flexible with excellent properties. It is used for structural products, especially in boat building and aircraft industries, as well as for musical instruments like guitars and pianos.
Sitka spruce trees grow close together, forming a dense canopy which few plants can grow beneath. However, the foliage provides cover from the wind and rain for larger mammals, while birds of prey and smaller birds may use the tree for nesting.
Aboriginal tribes thought the Sitka was magical, its wood was used to create love charms. During Ceremonial dances it was thought to protect the participants from evil spirits. The dried roots were also used to weave hats and baskets.