Promoting Knowledge of and Appreciation for Canada's Native Trees
Picea rubens – Red Spruce
Usually associated with the Maritimes, Red Spruce grows in scattered locations in eastern Ontario, but populations can be locally abundant. They are sometimes confused with White Spruce (Picea glauca), but careful scrutiny rewards the observer with the correct ID.
Red Spruce have hairy young twigs (use magnifier), smaller cones, wider-growth form, and yellowish-green foliage (often shiny). The foliage is arranged more densely and forward-facing on twigs, the tree is more shade-tolerant and more likely to grow in lower pH conditions. It is found in close association with Red Maple (Acer rubrum). White Spruce have hairless young twigs, longer cones, narrower growth form, and blueish-green foliage. The foliage is arranged less densely and more perpendicular to twig direction, the tree is less shade-tolerant and more likely to grow in higher pH conditions.
This photo shows Black Spruce, Red Spruce, and White Spruce.
Red Spruce has been found on the eastern side of Ottawa out to Vankleek Hill, the Alfred Bog, and Hawkesbury, and in Gatineau Park, Quebec. Two isolated populations have been located west of Ottawa, one in Algonquin Park and the other at Rose Hill Nature Reserve. There are probably more to be discovered! The best site to view many 100+ year old Red Spruce is in the NCC Greenbelt at Anderson and Leitrim Road. Other good public sites include: Gatineau Park along the Wolf Trail particularly on the northern side of the loop and Lavigne Natural Park near Bourget.
Selected photographs with location coordinates in iNaturalist: