Gardening Magazine

Picea Mariana

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Picea mariana (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Picea mariana (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained to poorly drained

Eventual Height: 15m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: 1, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b

Family: Pinaceae

Picea mariana is a is a slow growing, evergreen coniferous tree with a narrow pyramidal habit. Its blue/ green leaves are needle like and up to 15mm long. Its trunk may achieve a diameter of up to 50cm. Its branches are slightly drooping with upturned tips. Its grey/ brown bark is thin and scaly. Its red/ purple flowers are in the form of pollen cones and female cones. Its fruit are pendulous cones and when mature are mid brown up to 4cm long and 2cm broad. Its roots are shallow and wide spreading.

Picea mariana Leaf (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Picea mariana Leaf (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Picea mariana, commonly known as the Black Spruce, Bog Spruce or Swamp Spruce, is native to most of Canada and north east USA. In its native habitat it grows on wet organic soils in the south of its range and dryer soils at the north of its range.

The etymological root of the binomial name Picea is derived from the Lain Pix meaning ‘pitch or tar’ in reference to the Spruce trees resin. Mariana is derived from the Latin ‘of St. Mary’.

The landscape architect may find Picea mariana useful as a tree to grow on wet peaty soils.

Ecologically, Picea mariana seeds may be attractive to some birds and mammals.

Picea mariana Cones (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Picea mariana Cones (30/12/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given the variety Picea mariana ‘Nana’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Picea mariana prefers moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers acid to neutral soils. It will tolerate wet, nutrient poor soils.

Picea mariana requires little maintenance.

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