Picea sitchensis - Sitka spruce

Sitka spruce grows along the west coast of North America from Alaska to California, and has many – sometimes surprising – merits. Few know that it was used in the building of one of the largest aircraft ever, Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose. This majestic tree has been used throughout history by animals, plants and man. It grows to over 90 metres, and the trunks of giants blown down in Pacific storms provide an environment suitable for many species, including a new generation of Sitka spruce, which start life growing on these so-called nurse logs.

Sitka spruce migrated into North America from Asia during the Ice Age, across the then dry Bering Strait. It is presently constricted to the coastal belt of western North America, as it is completely dependent on moisture from the Pacific Ocean, which condenses on the huge trees’ needles and drips to the ground for the roots to drink. The species has been widely planted in Europe, e.g. in Scotland, but in Finland it has proved rather frost tender and has grown tolerably only on the southwest coast and in the archipelago. At Mustila there is only a single specimen left of those planted in the early 1900s. However, more continental provenances introduced in the 1990s seem to be much hardier.

(UPDATED 08-08-2022 / JS)