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Silver Spruce

The Picea Engelmannii is commonly known as Columbian Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, Mountain Spruce, Pino Real, Silver Spruce, as well as White Spruce

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Growing Regions

Engelmann spruce is widely distributed throughout the mountains of the western United States and Canada. It occurs from central British Columbia and Alberta as far south as New Mexico and Arizona [6]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [101]. In the Pacific Coast region, Engelmann spruce is only a minor component of high-elevation forests. It grows from the Coastal Range in west-central British Columbia, south along the east slope of the Cascades through Washington and Oregon to Mount Shasta in northern California [6]. In the Rocky Mountains Engelmann spruce is a major component of high-elevation forests. It grows from southwestern Alberta, south through the mountains of eastern Washington, Idaho, and western Montana to the high mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico [6].


General Information

The genus Picea consists of about 30 species of evergreen trees found in cool, temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Seven species of Picea, including Engelmann spruce, are native to North America. The currently accepted scientific name of Engelmann spruce is Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm. [45,53]. There are no recognized races or geographic varieties. Natural hybridization between species of Picea is common. Engelmann spruce x white spruce (Picea glauca) hybrids are common where the ranges of these species overlap. Natural crosses between these species occur from central British Columbia as far south as eastern Washington and Yellowstone National Park [23]. Within this area, trees at low elevations closely resemble pure white spruce. Pure Engelmann spruce tends to dominate at higher elevations [23]. Engelmann spruce x white spruce hybrids are common throughout low elevations in British Columbia [32]. Using artificial pollination techniques, Engelmann spruce has been successfully crossed with white spruce, blue spruce (P. pungens), and Sitka spruce (P. sitchensis) [32].

Climax stands consisting entirely of Engelmann spruce are somewhat
scattered and often restricted to wet or cold habitats [4,88].  The
Engelmann spruce series is generally recognized by the absence or scant
representation of subalpine fir.  This is because many ecologists,
especially those working in the northern Rocky Mountains, believe that
only in the absence of subalpine fir does Engelmann spruce dominate at
climax [22,67,98].

Throughout the Rocky Mountains, Engelmann spruce occurs in widespread
forests within the subalpine fir or white fir (Abies concolor)
habitat-type series either as a climax codominant or long-lived seral
species [4,98].  In the northern Rocky Mountains, Engelmann spruce is
considered a long-lived seral species in fir habitat types.  In the
central and southern Rocky Mountains, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir
often codominate at climax; however, these forests are classified under
the subalpine fir series to be consistent with habitat-type usage
elsewhere [40,47].

Published classification schemes listing Engelmann spruce as an
indicator or dominant in habitat types (hts), community types (cts),
plant associations (pas), ecosystem associations (eas), site types
(sts), riparian zone associations (rzas), or dominance types (dts) are
presented below:

Area                    Classification          Authority

AZ, NM: -----           forest & woodland hts   Layser & Schubert 1979
        -----           forest hts              Moir & Ludwig 1979
        Apache, Gila, 
          Cibola NFs    forest hts              Fitzhugh & others 1987
        s of Mogollon
n AZ: San Fransisco     general veg. cts, hts   Rominger & Paulik 1983
n AZ, n NM              forest hts              Larson & Moir 1987

CO: Arapaho &
      Roosevelt NFs     forest hts              Hess & Alexander 1986
    Gunnison & 
      Uncompahgre NFs   forest hts              Komarkova & others 1988
    Routt NF            forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1980
    White River NF      forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1983
w CO                    riparian pas            Baker 1989a

ID: Sawtooth, White
      Cloud, Boulder, 
      & Pioneer Mtns    general veg. cts        Schlatterer 1972
c ID                    forest hts              Steele & others 1981
n ID                    forest hts              Cooper & others 1987
e ID, w WY              forest hts              Steele & others 1983
                        riparian cts            Youngblood & others 1985a 

MT                      forest hts              Pfister & others 1977
                        riparian dts            Hansen & others 1988
c, e MT                 riparian cts, hts       Hansen & others 1990
nw MT                   riparian hts, cts       Boggs & others 1990
sw MT                   riparian sts, cts, hts  Hansen & others 1989
NM: Cibola NF           forest hts              Alexander & others 1987
    Lincoln NF          forest hts              Alexander & others 1984
n NM, s CO              forest hts              Develice  & others 1986

OR: Wallowa-Whitman NF  steppe & forest pas     Johnson & Simon 1987
    Deschutes, Ochoco,
      Fremont &
      Winema NF's       riparian rzas           Kovalchik 1987
OR, WA: Blue Mtns       forest & nonforest cts  Hall 1973

c, s UT                 forest hts              Youngblood & Mauk 1985
n UT                    forest hts              Mauk & Henderson 1984
UT, se ID               riparian cts            Padgett & others 1989

WA: Okanogan NF         forest pas              Williams & Lillybridge 1983 

WY: -----               riparian cts            Olson & Gerhart 1982
    Medicine Bow NF     forest hts              Alexander & others 1986
    Bighorn Mtns        forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1976
    Wind River Mtns     forest hts              Reed 1976

USFS R-4                aspen cts               Mueggler 1988

AB                      general veg. cts        Moss 1955
w-c AB                  forest cts              Corns 1983
                        general veg. eas        Corns & Annas 1986
BC: Prince Rupert
     Forest Region      general veg. eas        Pojar & others 1984

Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Picea engelmannii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.

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