White spruce

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated March 2018.

Scientific name: Picea glauca (Moench) Voss

Common name(s): white spruce, skunk spruce, cat spruce, Canadian spruce

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


-evergreen needles

  • 1/3 to 3/4 inches long
  • cross section is square
  • tips are pointed but not sharp
  • green-gray/green
  • needles often have a pungent smell that some liken to cat or skunk spray


  • males flowers emerge reddish
  • females flowers emerge purple

-cones are 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 inches long

-slender light brown twigs, rounded scales

-bark is thin, gray/brown

  • smooth when younger
  • flaky and scaly when older

-can reach 90 feet tall

– may be confused with red spruce (P. rubens), which also occurs in wild blueberry fields but has small hairs on the branchlets; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage






Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. “Virginia Tech Dendrology.” Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheet, 2021, dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=103.