Common name: Sitka spruce
Picea sitchensis: This species is the largest of all spruces. It is native to the Pacific Northwest coast region and grows at low altitudes near the ocean. The Sitka spruce is unique in that it can absorb minerals such as calcium and phosphorus from the ocean. With its strong, tough, lightweight wood, Sitka spruce has had many uses for humans. There is no better soundboard for a piano or guitar than the one made from this spruce. And that is thanks to its lack of vessel elements, its long straight fibres, and its uniform composition. I have seen a Sitka spruce in the Carmanah Valley that was so old you had to look twice to really see it as a tree - it looked more like an ancient totem pole carved by weather and age. Hughie Jones.
The photo is of a very young Sitka spruce planted in 2018 in the BC Habitat Garden. Behind it is a new Western redcedar nurse log, the top of a 1000-year-old tree, which fell off in a storm. The older nurse log south along the Sino-Himalayan highway is a Sitka spruce log that was brought into the Garden. It is now almost covered by salal and young trees.
The Sitka spruce in Olympic National Park, at Klaloch in Washington State, is a testament to the tenacity of this species. It overhangs a cave and apparently lives in the void above, but actually its roots grow back into the ground behind.
Another example of its tenacity is that it is the world's most remote living tree, the sole survivor of a lumber plantation on Campbell Island, south of New Zealand.
Photos by Hughie Jones
New growth photo taken in Garden May, 2022