Skip to Main Content Ray Howard Library Shoreline Community College

Tree Campus: Sitka Spruce

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Sitka Spruce

c̓əlqay’ac - S. Lushootseed

Picea sitchensis (PINACEAE)



W. Coast N. Am., Canada to N. Calif.



"Sitka spruce forests in various phases of succession provide habitat, in many cases critical habitat, for a large variety of mammals, game and nongame birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Its value as a browse species for large ungulates is poor, while it has fair to good value for some game birds.

Sitka spruce forests provide hiding and thermal cover for a large variety of mammals. Old-growth Sitka spruce forests in Alaska and British Columbia are critical winter habitat for the Sitka deer. Old growth provides thermal cover and acts as a snow screen, allowing easier access to browse species. Sitka deer require large blocks of old growth from sea level to the alpine and subalpine environments for migrational movements from summer to winter range. Sitka spruce forests also provide habitat for Roosevelt elk, woodland caribou, Alaskan brown bear, and mountain goat.

Sitka spruce provides good nesting and roosting habitat for avifauna . Snags and live trees with broken tops provide nesting habitat for primary and secondary cavity nesters. The bald eagle uses primarily (greater than 90 percent) Sitka spruce for nesting trees on Admiralty Island, and also uses them as roosting trees to survey the incoming breakers for food. The peregrine falcon in coastal British Columbia uses Sitka spruce for platform nesting and secondary cavity nesting." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Native Americans have used Sitka spruce for various purposes. The roots can be woven to produce baskets and rain hats. The pitch was used for calking canoes, for chewing, and medicinal purposes.

Pioneers split Sitka spruce into shakes for roofing and siding.

Sitka spruce also has limited food value for humans, for the inner bark and young shoots may be eaten as emergency food. Tea can be made from the young shoots.

In the first half of this century Sitka spruce provided most of the wood for structural components of World War I and II aircraft. More recently it has been used as the nose cones for missiles and space craft ." [1]



"Sitka spruce is the most important timber species in Alaska. The wood, with its high strength to weight ratio, is valuable for use as turbine blades for wind-driven electrical generators, masts for sail boats, ladders, oars, boats, and racing sculls. Sitka spruce's high resonant quality makes it valuable in the manufacture of piano sounding boards and guitars. The wood from Sitka spruce is also used in saw timber, high-grade wood pulp, and plywood." [1]



[1] Griffith, Randy Scott. 1992. Picea sitchensis. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

Privacy Statement
Search the Library Website