Picea rubens 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Picea rubens
Species Authority: Sarg.
Common Name(s):
English Red Spruce, Eastern Spruce
French Epinette rouge
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-03-14
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Stritch, L.
Athough Picea rubens underwent a period of decline during the 19th and 20th centuries, the major part of that decline happened outside of the three generation time period used to assess past declines. Additionally, while it occupies a more limited range than the other northern spruces in North America, its extent of occurrence is still very extensive and far beyond the thresholds for a threatened category. There is no current indication of decline, and it is actually expanding again in many parts of its range. It is therefore assessed as Least Concern
Previously published Red List assessments:
1998 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Found in eastern Canada (in maritime provinces, extreme SE Ontario, S Quebec) and in the USA (New England States and Appalachian Mountains).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland I, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec); United States (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia)
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Locally dominant.
Current Population Trend: Increasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: No
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Picea rubens occurs from near sea level on the coasts of the maritime provinces of Canada, to the higher slopes of the Appalachian Mountains (1,100 m to 1,500 m a.s.l.). In the NE lowland areas the species grows mainly on acid soils (pH 4-5.5) of alluvial origin, in the mountains also on acidic, peaty or rocky soils generally unfavorable for most of the other tree species of NE North America. It is climatically restricted to areas with a cool, moist oceanic climate, with annual precipitation between 875 mm and 2,000 mm (increasing with elevation). It is commonly mixed with Picea glauca or Abies balsamea, more rarely with Picea mariana, which occupies swamps and bogs but may extend to drier sites. Rare or local associated conifers are Abies fraseri, Tsuga canadensis, Pinus strobus, and Chamaecyparis thyoides. Broad-leaved trees can be common or dominant, especially on better soils.
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: No
Generation Length (years): 30

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Red Spruce is an important timber tree of medium size but with a relatively limited natural range. Its wood is light in weight and cream coloured, strong and straight grained. It has varied applications and, besides the mass use for paper pulp, more specialized uses include construction, boat building, flag poles, cooperage, and especially musical instruments. Spruce wood is ideal for sounding boards and bodies of string instruments, from pianos (the keys hit strings) to guitars and violins. It is not often possible to ascertain which species of spruce has been used, as anatomically the wood of three species growing in this area is indistinguishable. Red Spruce is uncommon in cultivation probably because it is not very distinct and few cultivars are known. Locally the resin from trunk wounds has been used as chewing gum, perhaps learned by early settlers in Maine from native tribes. This use has been redundant for nearly a century as other sources of gum replaced it.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Picea rubens was extensively exploited for its timber during the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in the southern part of its range in the Appalachian Mountains. During this period it was also significantly affected by fires and the clearance of forests for agriculture. More recently (the last 100 years), this species has been affected by atmospheric pollutants and acid deposition. However, a recent survey of this species across its natural range in the USA found that there was no significant decline and that in most areas it was expanding its area of occupancy (Nowacki 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is known from a number of National Parks and other protected areas.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Picea rubens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T42335A2973542. . Downloaded on 25 November 2015.
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