Interesting Facts about Sitka Spruce Trees

Sitka, Alaska has a total area of 4,811 square miles, making it the largest incorporated city by area in the U.S. Interestingly, Sitka is only accessible by boat or plane because–get this–it’s a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean. About 9,000 people call Sitka home, making it sparsely populated. There are more trees than people in Sitka.

With moderate, cool temperatures and abundant precipitation, the Sitka region has become well known in the logging industry with its abundance of trees, including the famous Sitka spruce.

As the third tallest conifer species in the world, Sitka spruce trees have been known to grow very tall, with some reaching upwards of 300 feet in the air. Some Sitka spruce have been found to be up to 700 years old, so they’re definitely known for their longevity. They grow well near the ocean and its inlets and are generally found on the west coast of North America from Kodiak Island, Alaska, down to Fort Bragg, California.

If you were to visit an area full of Sitka spruce in the Alaskan wilderness, you’d likely be near grizzly and black bears. Interestingly, some pieces of Sitka spruce wood show a grain pattern that vaguely resembles the scratches of bear’s claws.

Alaska Specialty Woods uses Sitka spruce to help create and repair musical instruments such as guitars, but the tree’s wood is also used for other things such as sailboat masts and spars, aircraft components, and the nose cones of Trident missiles. Sitka spruce wood is generally light and soft while also being strong and flexible so it’s ideal for plywood, shipbuilding and general construction uses.

Root bark from Sitka spruce can be used to make water-tight hats as well as baskets, ropes, and fishing lines, while newly grown tips of Sitka spruce branches can help flavor spruce beer. Aboriginal people have been known to eat the inner bark or young shoots raw as a source of vitamin C. It can also function as a laxative!

Sitka spruce trees have many uses, and are especially prized for their role in helping make musical instruments sound great.

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