Alaska State Tree

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Sitka spruce Pinaceae Picea sitchensis

Leaf: Single, linear, spirally arranged; 1 inch long with a very sharp tip, needles point perpendicular and forward on the twig; yellow-green above with white bloom below. Each needle borne on a raised, woody peg (sterigma).

Flower: Monoecious; male cones erect or pendent; female cones green to purple and borne near the top of the tree.

Fruit: Oblong cones, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long with thin, woody, spirally arranged scales that have very thin, notched edges and are tan when mature. Cones ripen in one growing season and occur near the top of the tree.

Twig: Current year's twigs are moderately stout and yellow-brown to orange-brown. All twigs are covered with numerous distinct woody pegs (sterigmata).

Bark: On young trees, bark is thin and scaly, usually gray. On mature trees it's usually less than 1 inch thick; gray to brown and scaly.

Form: Sitka spruce is the largest of all spruces. It commonly is 125 to 180 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet in diameter, but can be much larger. Crown is open with somewhat pendulous branches; branches commonly reach the ground and dead branches are retained for a long time. Base of trees are commonly swollen and buttressed.

Copyright 2003, Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved.
Photos courtesy: Michael Aust, John Baitey, Ctaude L. Brown, Bruce Bongarten,
Susan D. Day, Edward C. Jensen, Richard E. Kreh, Larry H. McCormick, Alex X.
Niemiera, John A. Peterson, Oana Popescu, John R. Seiter, David W. Smith, Kim
C. Steiner, James E. Ward, Rodney E. Will, Shepard M. Zedaker.
Text written by: John R. Seiter, Edward C. Jensen, Or John A. Peterson

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