Engelmann's Spruce
Picea engelmannii
Parry ex Engelm.
Family: Pinaceae, Pine
Genus: Picea
Synonyms:
Other names: white, mountain, or silver spruce

Nomenclature: engelmannii = named after Engelmann
Nativity/ Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
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Description
General: straight, spire-like evergreen tree up to 50 m. tall, the trunk seldom over 1 m. thick. Young twigs usually strongly though finely softly short-hairy, but sometimes almost hairless. Bark brownish-red to reddish or purplish, loosely scaly, rather thin. Branches generally evidently whorled, short and rigid in the crown.
Leaves: needles, about 2-3 cm long, sharp but not particularly stiff, deep bluish-green, tending to spread in all directions on the branch or more commonly in part horizontally spreading and in part erect and thus all on the upper side of the branch, shallowly ridged on the upper surface and prominently ridged beneath and thus 4-angled and nearly as thick as broad, with two whitish lines on the lower surface nearly as broad as those on the upper surface.
Cones: male and female on the same tree. Male cones 10-15 mm long, yellow. Female cones mostly 4-5 cm long, yellow-brown to purplish-brown, the scales round-tipped to pointed, finely irregularly edged-small-toothed, more than twice as long as the oblong bracts and completely concealing them. June-July.
Fruits: seeds, barely 3 mm long, 1/2-1/3 as long as the pale brownish wing.

Distribution
Cool, moist slopes and ravines, often around swamps, montane to subalpine zone, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from Yukon and B.C. and s. w. Alberta, s. through the Cascade mountains of WA and OR to CA, ID, and s. in the Rocky mountains to NM and to AZ, UT, and e. NV.
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Edible Uses
Young male catkins of Engelmann's spruce are edible raw or cooked. They can be used as a flavoring. The immature female cones are edible cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy. The cones are about 5 cm long. The inner bark can be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc. or added to cereals when making bread. It could be an emergency food when all else fails. The seed is edible raw. The seed is about 2-4 mm long and is small and cumbersome to use. A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips.


Medicinal Uses
An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of respiratory complaints, plants used in the treatment of tuberculosis etc. A decoction of the leaves and gum has been used in the treatment of cancer. It was said that if this treatment did not work then nothing would work. The decoction was also used in the treatment of coughs. The ashes of the twigs, mixed with oil, have been used as an ointment to soothe and heal in miscellaneous treatments for the skin. The pitch obtained from the trunk has been used in the treatment of eczema.


Other Uses
The bark is a source of tannin. The branches and the roots have been shredded, pounded and used to make cord and rope. The bark has been used to make baskets and various small utensils. The wood is close-grained, light, soft, not strong. It is used for lumber, construction, fuel and charcoal. It is also valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper.

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