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Picea sitchensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES PINACEAE

Scientific Name: Picea sitchensis
Species Authority: (Bong.) Carrière
Common Name(s):
English Sitka Spruce
Synonym(s):
Pinus sitchensis Bong

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.
Justification:
This spruce still covers vast tracts of coastal mainland and islands along the Pacific Coast of North America; it is also a pioneer after disturbance, either natural or from logging, and will return unless deliberately prevented. Consequently it is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Occurs in the Pacific Coast Region of North America from Alaska to California.
Countries:
Native:
Canada (British Columbia); United States (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Locally common.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Picea sitchensis occurs from tidewater up to steep mountain sides in Alaska and British Columbia, generally to ca. 900 m a.s.l. (highest record 1,189 m), always in proximity to oceanic weather. The soils are variable, usually with a thick humus layer. The climate is very humid, annual precipitation ranges from 1300 mm to 3750 mm, the winters are moderate (in coastal Alaska snow in winter usually stays only above 200 m). On Vancouver Island and on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington this spruce attains its greatest size. It is usually mixed with Tsuga heterophylla (shade tolerant competitor), Pseudotsuga menziesii and Thuja plicata, other associated conifers are Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (locally), Xanthocyparis nootkatensis, and Abies amabilis, at higher elevations replaced by Tsuga mertensiana or A. lasiocarpa; Alnus rubra alongside rivers and Acer macrophyllum in groves are common broad-leaved trees
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Sitka Spruce grows to the largest tree of its genus and is abundant in the coastal forests between roughly 43º and 62º N along the Pacific Ocean. It is a highly valuable timber tree with growth rates exceeding those of other species and, in old growth stands, truly magnificent sizes. It is (still) heavily logged in clear cuts from natural stands including old growth (in this part of the world this means: forest that was never cut before). Smaller sizes go to the paper industry, but big trees are prized for construction and special uses such as small aircraft, masts and spars for sailing ships, oars for rowing boats, ladders, and sounding boards of musical instruments. Sitka Spruce has been widely used in plantation forestry on poor acid soils in cool and wet climates such as the hills and moors of Ireland and Scotland; this timber is used for pulp wood. In horticulture it finds less use; most plantings in large parks as specimen trees date from the 19th century, and only a limited number of cultivars has been produced, mostly dwarf forms. It requires a cool and moist climate.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Logging may have in the past depleted stands of mature trees where these have not been replaced by the same species, but in general, good regeneration has ensured that there has been limited decline in extent of occurrence and area of occupancy.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in several protected areas, including national parks.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Picea sitchensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 August 2014.
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