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Sitka Spruce

The Sitka Spruce only grows within a few miles of the Pacific Northwest coast.  It flourishes in a climate with high annual rainfall, cool summers with lots of fog, and mild winters. The life span of a Sitka Spruce can be over 800 years, with that much time to grow; these massive trees have an average height of 230-246 feet and an average diameter between 6-and 8 feet. If you are ever on the coast of the Pacific Northwest or in Sitka, Alaska, you can identify this native tree based on the following characteristics:

  • Single needles that are 5/8-1 inch long, on all sides of branch, that are stiff and prickly
  • Cones that are 2-3½ inches long, light brown, hang at ends of branches
  • Bark thin with large, loose scales, often purplish-brown

(Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/owl/oldgrowth/tree/sitka_spruce.htm#)

Main Uses for Sitka Spruce

The most common uses of Sitka Spruce are for lumber and pulpwood. Alaska actually grows about 89% of the Sitka spruce in all of the United States. Due to the high strength-to-weight ratio and the quality of the lumber, Sitka spruce has traditionally been a specialty wood. Some of the uses are “sounding boards for high-quality pianos, guitar faces, ladders, and components of experimental light aircraft. Other products are oars, planking, masts, and spars for boats and turbine blades for wind-energy conversion systems.”
(Source: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/usda/amwood/265sitka.pdf)

 

So the next time you are playing the piano or guitar or are sailing, think about what could have taken part in the building of the product. Chances are, the Sitka spruce has something to do with your quality wood product.

 

Brent Cole

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