Many types of wildlife use Canadian spruce for shelter, food

In order to terrify soldiers on the ground, Germany fitted its Ju 87 dive bombers with air-powered sirens that howled an unearthly howl as the planes attacked the hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers trapped along Dunkirk’s beaches. More than 800 ships evacuated the troops, including the Tamzine, a small 14.7-foot-long fishing boat built from Canadian spruce. The Canadian spruce (Picea glauca) is also the one that the Wright brothers used to build their planes.

The young tips of the spruce branches are used to brew beers and root beers. Indeed, spruce tips were a main addition to beer before brewers started brewing with hops. Spruce tips give the beer a crisp, fresh but mellow pine scent and a crunchy flavor.

Fresh sprouts are a natural source of vitamin C which keeps beer stable. Due to the high vitamin C content, Captain Cook avoided scurvy in his crew by brewing spruce beer on his sea voyages.

Canadian spruce, commonly known as white spruce, feline spruce, Alberta white spruce, skunk spruce, Black Hills spruce, and western white spruce, is an evergreen tree that is not only important for wildlife, but also a valuable commercial tree. The Canadian spruce grows up to 82 feet tall with a cone-shaped shape.

The lower branches often drop, sometimes touching the ground. The lumber of Canadian spruce is light and soft, yet very strong, making it a popular lumber for construction materials in dwellings, panels, furniture, implements, oars and paddles, and boxes. Due to its long, strong fibers, it is popular for papermaking, as well as particle board and insulation board. It even does well as a cool Christmas tree.

Many types of wildlife use Canadian spruce not only for shelter in its dense branches, but as a source of food.

The compactness of the branches protects against wind, rain and snow. White spruce produces light brown, thin, cylindrical pine cones that produce a lot of seeds. These nutritious seeds are a favorite food for crossbills, evening grosbeaks and red-breasted nuthatches. Deer, rabbits and grouse roam the foliage. Red squirrels eat not only the seeds, but also the tender young spruce shoots. Porcupines and black bears eat the bark.

Canadian spruce can begin to form cones as early as 4 years old, but generally does not produce significant amounts of cones and seeds until they are at least 30 years old.

White spruce grows well almost everywhere. For best growth, plant them in full sun. The best soil will be sandy or loamy soil with an acidic to neutral soil pH (5.5 to 7.0).

The important thing is that the soil drains well, and is not compacted or heavy like clay soil.

After planting, water the soil abundantly, but do not water the soil. Because the Canadian spruce only needs about 20 inches of water each year, you will only need to water during a severe drought. If it hasn’t rained for a while, water once or twice a week. It is an incredibly tolerant tree that is infallible. It is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 6. Your tree will grow from one foot to two feet each year.

Plant some Canadian white spruce and you will have a carefree tree that not only provides shelter for wildlife, but also shelter for stranded soldiers crossing the Channel.

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