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Spruce

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  • Botanical: Picea abies
  • Family: Pinaceae
  • Hits: 4680
Spruce

Botanical

Picea abies

Family

Pinaceae

Known as

Norway Spruce, Spruce, Picea abies, Feichten, Gräne, Krestling, Pechtanne, Rothtanne, Rottanne, Schwarztanne

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

flower - from May to June; seeds - from Oct to November.

Parts Used

bark, flowers, needle, seed, twigs

Aroma

balsamic, smoky, sweet, woody

Medicinal

asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs, gout, insomnia, muscle pain, neuralgia, nervousness, rheumatism, sinusitis, vascular

Heart & Circulation

vascular

Infection & Inflammation

sinusitis

Muscle & Joints

gout, muscle pain, rheumatism

Mind & Nerves

insomnia, neuralgia, nervousness

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, cough, pharyngitis

Properties

antibacterial, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulant

Note

top

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

It is a large, fast-growing evergreen coniferous tree growing 35–55 m (115–180 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of 1 to 1.5 m. It can grow fast when young, up to 1 m (3 ft) per year for the first 25 years under good conditions, but becomes slower once over 20 m (66 ft) tall. The shoots are orange-brown and glabrous (hairless). The leaves are needle-like, 12–24 mm long, quadrangular in cross-section (not flattened), and dark green on all four sides with inconspicuous stomatal lines.

The cones are 9–17 cm long (the longest of any spruce), and have bluntly to sharply triangular-pointed scale tips. They are green or reddish, maturing brown 5–7 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 4–5 mm long, with a pale brown 15 mm wing.

Properties & Uses

The buds, leaves and resin are antibiotic, antiseptic, balsamic, expectorant, sedative. A pitch, or resin, obtained from the trunk is rubefacient and stimulant. It is used externally in plasters etc for its healing and antiseptic properties. A poultice of the sap or gum has been used in the treatment of boil and abscess pain. 

Other Uses

The tree is a source of pitch (Burgundy pitch) and turpentine (Jura turpentine). Burgundy pitch is used as a varnish and in medicinal plasters. It is a strong adhesive. The turpentine is a waterproofer and wood preservative. They are obtained by incisions in the trunk, the resin is scraped out some months later. An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery. The seed contains 30% of a fatty oil, this is used in the production of a varnish.

The bark contains some tannin. Both the bark and bark extract have been widely used in Europe as a source of tannin, the bark containing up to 13% tannin. Yields of tannin have been doubled by heating or steaming the bark as soon as possible after the tree has been felled. A fairly wind resistant tree and fast growing, it can be planted in shelterbelts to provide protection from the wind. The dwarf cultivar 'Inversa' can be grown as a ground cover plant in a sunny position. The cultivars 'Reflexa' and 'Procumbens' can also be used.

They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way. Wood - medium hard, fairly elastic, durable under water, light in weight and colour. Used for general carpentry, joinery, musical instruments etc. Valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper

Cautions

none known

Distribution

Norway spruce grows throughout Europe from Norway in the northwest and Poland eastward, and also in the mountains of central Europe, southwest to the western end of the Alps, and southeast in the Carpathians and Balkans to the extreme north of Greece. The northern limit is in the arctic, just north of 70°N in Norway.

Its eastern limit in Russia is hard to define, due to extensive hybridisation and intergradation with the Siberian spruce, but is usually given as the Ural Mountains. However, trees showing some Siberian spruce characters extend as far west as much of northern Finland, with a few records in northeast Norway.

The hybrid is known as Picea × fennica (or P. abies subsp. fennica, if the two taxa are considered subspecies), and can be distinguished by a tendency towards having hairy shoots and cones with smoothly rounded scales.

Constituents

essential oil, turpentine, resin, Picein glycoside, tannin, vitamin C