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Black spruce (Picea mariana)—Grant Heilman Photography
Any of about 40 species of evergreen ornamental and timber trees that make up the genus Picea (pine family), native to temperate and cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere. These pyramid-shaped trees have whorled branches and thin, scaly bark. The needlelike, spirally arranged leaves connect to their stems via a peglike woody base, which remains on the twig when the leaf falls. Tough, finely grained, resonant, and pliable, spruce wood is used for sounding boards in pianos and bodies of violins, as well as in construction, for boats and barrels, and as pulpwood. Common species throughout most of northern North America are black spruce (P. mariana), a source of spruce gum, and white spruce (P. glauca), a source of good timber. Blue, or Colorado spruce (P. pungens) is used as an ornamental because of its bluish leaves and symmetrical growth habit.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on spruce, visit Britannica.com.