Black vs Red (vs White) Spruce

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Re: Black vs Red (vs White) Spruce

Post by Joe » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:59 am

dbhguru wrote:Tom,

I'm with you. I love Norways, and can't understand why some folks here in Massachusetts think they should be eliminated. I'd like to have a T-shirt with the message "I'm Bullish on Norway Spruce". Bet that would turn some heads.

Given the fact that we've lost and are losing so many species here: chestnut, elm, hemlock, most beech due to bark diseases, etc. - and that many forests are being overwhelmed with invasive plants- a nice species like NS should be appreciated. I've never seen NW "escape" so nobody can claim it's invasive.

The state planted many acres of NS several decades ago- and to my knowledge, NEVER bothered to thin them- so those stands were not in great shape- but not in terrible shape either. The state foresters however decided to wipe them out- clearcut them- along with their also unmanaged, planted red pines.

I hiked a lot in those state NS plantations. They were a terrific place for deer in the winter because the crowns were so dense. It was always quite in those stands, also due to the dense foliage. I think the real reason they clearcut them was because at that time, the price for spruce was at record level- and they could bang out a lot of board feet with little effort. It would look good on their annual production report.

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Re: Black vs Red (vs White) Spruce

Post by gnmcmartin » Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:06 pm

Spruce lovers:

I don't mean to expand this topic to include another species, but red spruce is a fine native spruce, and it is native to my timberland in the mountains of Garrett County, MD. In the "old days" farmers would go into the woods and dig up red spruce trees and plant them near their farmhouses. I have such spruce trees on my land in Garrett County planted near where there was an old farmhouse.

But, these red spruce are susceptible to some kind of needle cast disease, and this results in lower branches dying. Sometimes this disease works its way upward, leaving a very short crown.

But, although it is not native, Norway spruce does better. iI grows faster, doesn't have any significant disease problems, and is generally a prettier tree, although tastes in that regard can differ. Red spruce seems to be healthier on the tops of the WV mountains, usually above 3,800 or 4,000 feet, especially on what are called "balds." But at lower elevations, where they grow scattered in some woodlands, Norway spruce, by any objective measure, is generally a better tree.

Both the Norway spruce and the red spruce seem to reproduce in generally similar numbers, but red spruce seems to be just a bit more shade tolerant, and maybe just a bit more resistant to deer browsing, although deer will go after Norway only in difficult conditions, such as a lack of other browse, or when there is very deep snow and their movement to find other browse is very difficult.

On my timberland, I also had some plantings of white spruce. I liked these very much, in spite of their being much slower growing than the Norways. Unfortunately, when we had the terrible very deep. heavy wet snow with Super Storm Sandy, every single white spruce was crushed to the ground. Norway spruce suffered considerable damage, but there was not anywhere near such destruction. I once had several hundred nice white spruce trees between 30 and 40 feet tall. I don't have a single one now.


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Re: Black vs Red (vs White) Spruce

Post by wisconsitom » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:22 am

Heh, I knew you'd be in on this one, Gaines! I have considered-only half jokingly-of starting some group dedicated to fostering the Norway spruce. Wisconsin Norway Spruce Society...something like that, lol. Then, through my internet wandering, I came across another state resident and former DNR forester who shares my convictions. I don't know if it was on this board or elsewhere but I just recently made a post wherein I said I think Norway spruce should be made an "honorary native species",! But I would do it.

The only area in this state where I've seen NS naturalize to any extent is in the NW corner of the state, right exactly where Governor Walker wants to have his campaign contributors build the nation's largest open-pit iron ore mine. The Penokee Hills, although laughable when described as mountains by some of you further east and west, are an area of breathtaking scenery and geography. While camping at Copper Falls State Park some years ago, we took a drive to Montreal (Wisconsin) and the Hurley area. Right along the highway, in very rugged terrain, I saw what looked to be naturalized NS. Then later, as this ass became governor and began to sell our state out from under us, it was revealed to me that this was the precise area where the big mine was to go. That proposal is currently dead..........but with these ass clowns in office-and they control everything, including our "Supreme Court" proposals can't be far off.

But I digress-what else is new! The NS is a tree of rare attributes. We grew up next to a giant row of giants. We'd climb them as little kids, taking our red hoodies off and placing them at the tips of the trees, then run home and look up and see where we'd been! Just goofy kid stuff, but it sure left me with a strong connection to those trees. Now, I've got many acres of them planted....and growing beautifully.

Final thought for now: Our state, like many, made the pivot to "native species only" some years back. Hey, I'm all for natives, obviously, but in making this change, NS and European larch were dropped from the state nursery programs and generally have fallen out of favor. I think both of these trees fit in beautifully with our native stuff here, and that dropping these was a mistake. Little hope of changing any of that though. As in none.

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