Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Picea mariana
Species Authority: (Mill.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.
Common Name(s):
English Black Spruce, Bog Spruce, Swamp Spruce
Abies mariana Mill.
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.

This spruce occurs across the North American continent in the boreal zone. Its wide distribution and large population size lead to an assessment of Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:
1998 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Occurs in Boreal North America: from Newfoundland and New Jersey to interior Alaska.
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland I, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec, Saskatchewan, Yukon); United States (Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin)
Lower elevation limit (metres): 100
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Widespread and abundant.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Picea mariana occurs mostly in bogs or swamps and on permafrost sites ('muskeg'), at elevations between <150 m and 800 m a.s.l., occasionally in western mountains to 1,500 m or 1,800 m a.s.l., on a variety of acid soils, often on peat, in the south predominantly so. The climate is cold subhumid, but with a wide amplitude. Annual precipitation varies from 200 to 1,400 mm, the growing season from 25 to 160 days. Pure stands occur mostly on Sphagnum peat and on permafrost, elsewhere it is usually mixed with Picea glauca, Pinus banksiana and Abies balsamea; A. lasiocarpa and Pinus contorta in upland regions, and Populus tremuloides after fire. In the SE  of its range Picea mariana occurs in a mixed conifer-angiosperm swamp type with Chamaecyparis thyoides, Larix laricina, Abies balsamea, Populus balsamifera, Acer rubrum, Ulmus americana, Fraxinus nigra, and other broad-leaved species.
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: No
Generation Length (years): 50

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Black Spruce is economically very important as a source of pulpwood especially in the eastern parts of its great range. Its wood is light in weight and strong, nearly white in colour, and contains relatively little resin. It is one of the few spruces in North America in use as a Christmas tree, due to its compact shape when taken from natural stands; this use is now in decline. A 'spruce beer' beverage is brewed using the needles, and young twigs and the needle resin are also distilled for their aromatic properties to be used in cosmetics. There is anecdotal evidence that the drinking of spruce beer saved the English inhabitants of 18th century trading posts in Hudson Bay from succumbing to scurvy, caused by a deficiency of vitamin C in sailor's diets. Native Americans used the split roots to bind together birch bark canoes, as their elastic properties tend to pull the seams tight. In horticulture Black Spruce is valued for its compact, slow growth and often glaucous leaves and a modest number of cultivars, both dwarf forms and variegated forms, are available in the trade

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No threats have been identified for this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Black Spruce occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Fibre
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Construction or structural materials
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Handicrafts, jewellery, etc.
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H. 1990. Silvics of North America. USDA, Forest Service, Washington, DC.

Farjon, A. 2010. Conifer Database (June 2008) In Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2010 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., eds). Reading, UK. Available at:

Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Picea mariana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T42328A2972877. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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