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Engelmann Spruce Tree

Engelmann Spruce TreeThe Engelmann Spruce (P. Engelmanni, Engelm.) is the white spruce of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade range in Washington and Oregon. It crowns the lower and higher peaks, climbing to altitudes between one and two miles above the level of the sea. In the rocky sides of glacier-polished ravines these hardy trees find foothold, and set their spires like serried ranks of spearsmen to cover the bare cliffs. Snow loads them down for many months of the year ; they can survive that, but their destruction comes when a fire sweeps over them, killing all it touches, for the cambium of these trees is protected by a very thin bark. The seeds and seedlings go. There is no reproduction of forests thus destroyed. They give way to the lodgepole pine and other more fortunate species.

The Engelmann spruce is planted in the Eastern States, where it thrives. The disagreeable odour of the leaves counts against it. But the finest trees cannot be seen unless a journey be taken by the northernmost route to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where snows protect the forests from devastating fires, and these spruce trees grow to 150 feet high, with diameters of 4 or 5 feet. In late spring the blue-green foliage is jewelled with the flowers, purple and scarlet. In autumn the showy cones, with their shining brown, pointed scales hang out on the highest twigs and fling down their black, winged seeds. Here is a vastly different tree from the tame little seedling that began life in a nursery row.

The lumber value of the Engelmann spruce is high. It is used for general building purposes, for fuel and charcoal. The bark is sometimes used in tanning.