The attractive Hondo spruce is the most important spruce species on the coasts of East Russia and in Northern Japan, growing in favourable conditions up to 50-60m. Its layered branches grow straight outwards, slightly upturned towards the tips, while the branches of the crown – like many far eastern conifers – are distinctly upward-growing. The white stomata lines under the needles give the crown an attractive glitter in early morning or evening sun.
There are two thriving plantations of Hondo spruce at Mustila. Those growing along Maaherranpolku south of the Azalearinne, or Azalea slope are from seed sown in 1907, sent from Japan by Mustila’s ”collector royal”, Johannes Rafn. Another plantation, grown from Hokkaido seed planted out in 1936 as 12-year-olds, can be found at the western end of Etelärinne, or Southern Slope. Despite their age, both plantations are in excellent shape, unlike many of the American spruce planted there. This shows the suitability of both the species and the seed source to Mustila’s conditions.
Currently a test site for Hondo spruce seed from different sources is being created in the spruce collection area in the western part of the Arboretum. It has already been noticed that the young plants from seed from the Changai Mountains, on the border between Manchuria and Korea, start to grow in spring rather later than plants from other sources, which makes them hardier to spring frosts. Plants from other seed sources open their buds very early, thus needing protection from spring frosts to grow well.