Picea sitchensis

Conifers haven’t been receiving many entries lately on BPotD, so time to change that.

These photographs were taken in early summer near Port Renfrew, British Columbia. Both are of the same species, Picea sitchensis or Sitka spruce, previously featured on BPotD several years ago: Picea sitchensis.

The dwarfed spruce, growing on the end of the submerged log, is subject to fairly harsh conditions beyond the obvious one of trying to extract much of the needed nutrients from decaying wood. If I recall correctly from the conversation I had with one of the locals, Fairy Lake (where this is located) is occasionally subject to an influx of salt water from the ocean. The same local also commented that this tree is at least 40-50 years old, as he remembers it growing there — and of a similar size — when he was a child over twenty years ago. I plan on revisiting this particular plant in the future, to hopefully photograph it with a still lake surface.

The other spruce, growing about 15 or so km away, is known as the San Juan Sitka spruce. It is claimed by some to be Canada’s largest spruce tree and the second largest in the world (another photograph of it shared in that link). I’m not so sure about that claim, as British Columbia’s Big Tree Registry (PDF) suggests that BC has Sitka spruce trees that are larger in circumference, taller, more spreading, and (when combining all three of these measures in a points system), “bigger”. The only measure I could see where it may earn the title of Canada’s largest spruce tree is in volume of wood. Whatever status it may or may not be entitled to, it is still an impressive individual, measuring 62.5m high (205 feet), 11.66m circumference (36 feet, 3 inches), and a spread of 23m (75 feet). Still, it was only the second-largest tree I encountered that day.

Picea sitchensis
Picea sitchensis

22 responses to “Picea sitchensis”

  1. phillip

    ….
    ….a rock feels no pain….a island never dies…

  2. Meg Bernstein

    Conifers are so awesome, they’ve been around the planet sooo long.

  3. Sue in Bremerton

    I love evergreens more than anything just for their beauty, if nothing else.
    My friend has some kind of evergreen in a five gallon tub she got 50 years ago, when she first bought her house. Was always going to plant it, but never did. It’s kind of scraggly looking, but she keeps it on her patio, and at Christmas she decorates it. Your little one on the submerged lot reminded me of it. How strenuously these plants have to be to LIVE.

  4. Kate

    this tree is so cool! i like how the first one is all alone on a rock. 🙂

  5. C.Wick

    Wonderful photos…….
    If there’s a crack of a crevice…there’s room for life.
    Imagine how much life there is in the 2nd image!

  6. Corrina

    Fifteen or so years ago, a friend named her daughter Sitka Hope for this tree. She wanted her daughter to have the same strength and beauty. My friend passed away many years ago and I lost track of her daughter but this makes me wonder how she is doing.

  7. ruth Brodie

    The little Sitka Spruce is just right for a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, which leads me to say a Merry Christmas to you, and a very big thank you for posting the Botany photo of the Day. Sometimes I just don’t get it opened, but when I do I am so pleased, and do appreciate the time and effort you put into the entires.
    Hope that you have a good holiday, Daniel.

  8. Bonnie

    I thought the little tree was on a romantically small rocky island, but it’s growing on a submerged log? My goodness! And the other one should be in Fangorn Forest with the Ents!

  9. Troy Mullens

    Great photos and story today. Martha and I used a small Black Spruce with its beautiful red/purple cones for our Christmas Tree Card this year. We photographed it north of the Arctic Circle a couple of years ago. They can be magnificent trees whether large or small.
    Thanks for sharing these great photos.
    Troy

  10. elizabeth a airhart

    charles eley 1923
    experience will prove that there is something
    personal and insistent in the claims of trees
    and shrubs on those who love them.a tree,young
    and old, if admired, remains a definite vision
    and when after long absence it is visited again
    the meeting is approached with feelings of
    pleasure.
    the little tree that could

  11. Kevin Carroll

    Spontaneous bonsai, ma nature makes everything look so easy.

  12. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Very evocative photos — both the small tree and the large one.

  13. mike

    I have three of these beauties in my yard here in Southwest Washington. And not far from here are a few stands of old growth Sitka Spruce. They are breathtaking. Back a hundred years ago or so the logger barons tended to leave Sitkas alone as they were not as commercially viable as the Douglas Fir. That changed during the 1st World War when it was the material of choice for structural parts for the WW-1 bi-planes because it has an ideal strength-to-weight ratio. It is still used today in some small airplanes, in model airplanes also, as well as sailboat spars.
    In the future I was wondering if we could see some pics of the Golden Sitka Spruce supposedly in the UBC Botanical Garden??? Or have you featured those in the past?
    thanx
    mike a

  14. James

    Great example of what is known as dimorphism, or the manifestation of different forms of the same species depending on the environment in which it is grown.

  15. AMINU

    WHAT AN ELEGANT PLANT INDEED YOU MADE A GREAT JOB. KEEP IT UP

  16. oldgreentree

    it’s amazing how trees can survive in such harsh conditions..every moment nature can surprise us in such a wonderful way..
    I hope I can visit bc in the future for hiking and travelling
    keep up the good work

  17. Ann Kent

    Thank you. Both the photos and following comments bring back memories of photographing tiny but aged Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce trees growing out of cedar and spruce stumps in the tidal estuary of Rasmus Creek near Cape Scott. Slides, unfortunately, and still to be scanned.

  18. Jacqueline

    Thanks, Daniel, for the first photo … it’s a symbol of hope … if this tree can survive (and thrive!) for such a long time, how can I do less?
    Have a wonderful year, and I look forward to continued enjoyment of your great work.

  19. Anais Pilon

    Thanks for reminding me of the amazing trees you have out West and of the atmosphere I miss so much. Out here in Quebec we have the wonderfull fall colors but the trees seem to struggle with the weather compared to BC!

  20. Daniel Mosquin

    mike a. — that plant has been featured here. I probably will do an update of it sometime, when I manage a photograph of the entire tree.

  21. ravikant

    it is a great medicated plant used in homeopathy medicine thusa and pecia also grown in front of taj mahal in agra. it is a gymnosperm naturaly grow in western himalayan in india with great economic and medical value we also save these speceise

  22. lisa

    What tenacity! I love the old trees; they show the beauty that can come from living through the hardest times, the wonder of adaptation, and the rewards of endurance. More trees please! And thank you, this is a wonderful site.

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