Engelmann Spruce

(Picea engelmannii)

One sweet-sounding spruce
The wood from the Engelmann spruce is of very good quality, light in weight and straight-grained with a yellowish color. These qualities make it highly desirable in the making of acoustic guitars and harps.

Engelmann spruce is found in some of the highest and coldest forest environments in the western United States. Its forest home is characterized by long, cold winters with heavy snowpack, and short, cool summers. You’ll also find stands at lower elevations along stream bottoms where cold air flows down the valley and collects in localized frost pockets.

The Engelmann spruce is a large tree, averaging 30 inches in diameter and 90 feet in height, reaching mature size in about 150 years. Its crown is shaped like a pyramid, with the top somewhat rounded and limbs extending nearly to the ground. At very high elevations, the crown becomes distorted or the whole tree may be shrub-like in appearance. Its leaves are needle-like, about 1 inch long, blue-green in color, stiff and pointed. The needles are known for being stinky when crushed. The bark is thin, seldom exceeding ½ inch in thickness, and is composed of loosely attached red-brown scales.

Engelmann spruce is shade-tolerant and consequently will establish itself under other forest types such as aspen or lodgepole pine. Engelmann spruce has no value as a forage species, but the seeds are eaten by several species of small mammals and birds. It does provide excellent hiding and thermal cover for deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and bear.

Engelmann spruce grows in areas of high precipitation, usually in the form of snow. Its climate is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. It occupies one of the highest forest environments and has adapted to temperature extremes.

Engelmann spruce has been, and continues to be, a lumber source, but because it is found at high elevations, it is difficult to harvest. In addition to saw timber, it is used for poles, railroad ties and mine props. 


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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