Northern Ontario Plant Database
Picea rubens Sarg.
En: red spruce, eastern spruce, maritime spruce, he-balsam, yellow spruce
Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Needles: Spirally arranged, simple, evergreen, stiff, sessile, yellowish-green to dark green, 1.2–1.5 cm long, 4-angled in cross-section, sharply pointed (acuminate) at the apex, curving upwards.
Cones: Unisexual, male and female cones borne the same tree (plants monoecious); male cones terminal, erect, 1–1.4 cm long, falling after pollen is shed; female cones terminal, erect, but becoming pendant with maturity, mature seed cones 3–4 cm long, ovoid, brown, maturing the first year, each cone scale bearing 2 winged seeds; seed body 2–3 mm long, the thin obovate wing 3–9 mm long.
Habitat and Range: Usually on well-drained acidic soils; reported from wet to rocky forest habitats. Primarily a tree of the Maritimes and New England, but with disjunct populations in southeastern Ontario. In northern Ontario, isolated stands are know from Haliburton and Nipissing Townships.
Internet Images: The Picea rubens webpage from the Virginia Tech Dendrology website.
The Picea rubens webpage from the USDA Silvics of North America website.
Images of red pine's shape, branches, male cones shedding pollen, receptive female cones, mature seed cones, and seed, from the University of New Brunswick Forestry photo gallery.
Similar Species: Picea rubens is most similar to Picea mariana (black spruce), which also has hairy twigs and buds, but black spruce is a smaller tree, to 15 m, occurring in both lowlands, such as swamps and peatbogs, and uplands. Black spruce, widespread throughout the boreal forest, retains its 2–3 mm long cones for several years, and its glaucous needles are not as sharply pointed. Picea glauca (white spruce) can be distinguished by its glabrous twigs and buds.
Compare the Picea mariana (black spruce) and Picea glauca (white spruce) webpages from the Virginia Tech Dendrology website.
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