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Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 5)

White Spruce (Softwood)

This species has North American range slightly exceeding that of tamarack, and is the third most plentiful of Nova Scotia's softwoods. White spruce is our fastest-growing spruce, thriving on the moist, well drained soil along streams and lakes, and common on sandy soils along the coast.

Pulpwood is it chief use, followed by lumber, boxes, crates, and general construction. Straightness of grain accounts for its use in organ pipes, and arrow shafts. Reforestation is another common use for this species.

The Indians dug its long pliable roots for sewing birch bark on canoes and for decorating baskets. To prepare the slender roots they steamed coils of them for an hour or so in hot wood ashes, then removed and split them. Just before use, the roots were soaked in hot water. Examples of such spruce-root handicrafts can be seen in museums such as the
Halifax museum.

Although some people use white spruce for Christmas trees, its value is lowered by the rank odor. Moreover, like other spruces it quickly sheds its needles indoors unless the butt is placed in water.

Elements of the White Spruce

Needles: Four-cornered, long, sharp-pointed, blue-green, mounted spirally on little pegs and usually crowding toward upper side of twig.

Cones: Pendent, longer than those of red or black spruce.

Bark: Thin, scaly, ash-brown to silvery; inner bark streaked with rust-brown layers.

Wood: Nearly white to pale yellowish brown, with faint white dots, lightweight, soft, straight-grained.


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