This conical native beauty has proven its worth for hundreds of years.
The provincial tree of Manitoba, white spruce is one of only a handful of plant species that are indigenous to every Canadian province and territory. Hardy right up to the treeline (Zone 1), the shrubby specimens at the northern extreme of their range can live for up to 1,000 years, although in garden situations 200 years is the norm. Preferring a full sun situation, white spruces are adaptable to most soil types (including clay) and they eventually mature at 25 metres tall by six metres wide. Because white spruces tend to retain their lower branches, they were traditionally used as northwest windbreaks around pioneer homesteads, and with regular pruning they can be trimmed into flat-top evergreen hedges; left unpruned, their blue-green foliage and flawless conical shape make them a perfect specimen tree. White spruces are usually grown from seed, so there can be significant variation in needle colour and growth habit; wild specimens don’t transplant well, so look for young container-grown or ball-andburlapped specimens. One of just five spruce species native to Canada, Picea glauca is susceptible to several insect pests, both native and introduced: Avoid planting white spruces in areas where spruce beetles, spruce budworms or spruce sawflies are prevalent.
Every decade or so, white spruces produce an overabundance of seeds, and American red squirrels can somehow predict these “mast years” in advance, birthing a second litter of young’uns to take advantage of the food surplus.