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Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)

Largest of the world’s spruces, the Sitka spruce is associated with Sitka, Alaska, the area where the tree was first sighted by Europeans. It is one of the most prominent forest trees, growing in dense stands along the northwest coast of North America. While it is commonly 125 to 180 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet in diameter, it can be 225 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter at maturity. Its dark blue-green needles are about 1 inch in length, squarish in shape, and grow on all sides of the branches from woody pegs. Its light orange-brown cones can be over 3 inches in length and are usually found in the top quarter of the tree. Its smooth gray bark becomes scaly dark purplish brown with age. It grows best in the humid conditions found near tidewater. A valuable commercial resource, it was adopted by Alaska in 1962. This hardy evergreen can live 700 years.