The spruce has single needles, as does a fir, but they are diamond-shaped in cross-section and no top or bottom can be distinguished. New needles are bluer than the green ones of the previous year. The needles are carried on “pegs,” which remain on the twig after the needles fall. These little pegs are squarish and have flat tops. The popular Norway spruce has needles about an inch long with almost blunt tips, and has cones about 6 inches long that hang very attractively at the ends of branches. Fir cones, of course, stand upright on the branch.
Norway spruce is an important plantation tree in Britain, Germany, and other parts of Europe, and in the United States is a very widely planted ornamental. A fine spruce grows on the south side of the Old Union and another at 694 Alvarado Row. One is on the east side of Lasuen Street north of Museum Way, next to a coast live oak. Other specimens to be expected on campus are Engelmann spruce (P. engelmannii) and Sitka spruce (P. sitchensis). Tens of millions of Sitka spruce have been killed by beetles as a result of a 7° F. temperature rise in Alaska since the 1970s. Fortunately, this warming has not been global so far.
Name derivation: Picea – Latin name for pitch-pine, derived from pix (pitch); abies – Latin name for fir (abies).
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.