Spruces are coniferous evergreens of the genus Picea (Family Pinaceae). The 35 species of spruce are native to northern temperate and boreal regions.
Spruces can grow large (20-60m) and are distinguished by their whorled branches and conical habit. Spruce leaves ("needles") are needle-shaped and are attached to each branch in a spiral fashion. Needles are typically shed when 4-10 years old, leaving rough branch surfaces of pulvinus (peg-like structures where the needles attached).
Spruces can grow to great ages: a Norwegian Spruce in Western Sweden nicknamed Old Tjikko has been dated to 9550 years old, and is claimed to be one of the world's oldest known living trees.
In horticulture, spruces are typically grown as ornamental trees (e.g. Norwegian Spruce is a popular Christmas Tree in northern latitudes) and landscape trees. They are also grown for timber and pulpwood.
The leaves and branches can be a source of essential oils, and the sap has been used to make gums - including the first chewing gums. Spruce needles are also useful in survival situations due to their Vitamin C and water content.
Before the development of petrochemicals, spruce resin was also used to manufacture pitch. This is believed to be the etymology of Picea ("pix" is latin for pitch).
Use this tag for all questions about growing and caring for spruce trees.