Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19 - Red Spruce - Picea rubens

 The Red Spruce

 Red Spruce

My husband, Robert, found a whole forest of Red Spruce Trees on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 422, the Mt. Hardy Overlook. Two of his photos are on this blog post.

The parkway sign at Mt. Hardy overlook reads as follows:
"The United Daughters of the Confederacy in cooperation with the United States Forest Service planted this 125 acre forest as a living memorial to the 125,000 soldiers North Carolina provided the confederacy. The 125,000 Red Spruce Tree Forest was planted over a three-year period from 1941-1943."

I understand that it is easy to distinguish this tree from other conifers. How so?

The needles are square and 1/2 inch long. They are one per bundle.
They do not have the undersides of the Eastern Hemlock and Fraser Fir which are silvery.
The bark is flaky.
The cones hang down.
The needles are sharp and you feel it when you shake hands with a branch.

Spruce trees are the home of the endangered Northern flying squirrel.

This tree can live up to 350 years. It usually grows up to 130 feet tall. The United States champion red spruce is in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It is 147 feet tall and has a 152 inch circumference. I was in the Smokey Mountains this past week; I asked the rangers at Sugarlands visitor center where the champion trees are so I could photograph them. They would not divulge the locations; they said the locations were not made public to protect the trees. I am considering asking them if I can photograph them and keep the locations private.

There is a 50 acre virgin Red Spruce Forest in the Gaudineer Scenic Area in West Virginia in the Monongahela National Forest. I will go there in the near future and report back here on what I find. Oh my gosh, I can't wait!!

The Spruce Tree is the tree used to make the first chewing gum. Chewing gum is actually very much in the moment. You want to be in the moment? Chew gum....and this tree started it all. Did you know you can still buy spruce gum or make you own spruce gum. You could also make your very own spruce gum box, which was quite the item back in the 1800's. I think I may just make a spruce gum box myself.

To make your own gum, you will collect the sap, boil it, and put on a cookie sheet to cool. I understand that spruce gum is known to cure many addictions.


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