Spruces are conifers. Only the Norway spruce grows in Central Europe. It has a reddish bark, which is why it is also called red fir, which is incorrect. Around the world, there are about 40 different species that together form a genus.
Spruces make up the bulk of the conifers in our forests. They can live up to 600 years. In our forests, however, they are usually felled when they are 80-100 years old because that is when the forest produces the most wood.
Spruce grows about 40 meters high. Their diameter measures up to one and a half meters. The bark is reddish-brown in color and has fine scales. The needles fall off after about four to seven years.
How do spruces reproduce?
There are buds with flowers only about every three to four years, in the mountains every seven years. A bud is either male or female. The wind carries the pollen from one bud to the next.
Then the buds develop into cones that initially stand straight up. Over the course of a year, they grow 10-15 centimeters long and brown. They start to hang down. The seeds have a wing so the wind can carry them far away. This allows the spruce to multiply better.
Who are the spruces for?
In the end, the whole cone falls off. The seeds contain a lot of fat. Birds, squirrels, mice, and many other forest animals like to eat them. If a seed is spared and it falls on favorable soil, new spruce will sprout from it. Deer, deer, and other animals often feast on it or on the young shoots.
Many butterflies feed on the nectar of spruce trees. Numerous species of beetles bore their tunnels under the bark. They feed on the wood and lay their eggs in the tunnels. Sometimes the beetles get the upper hand, for example, the bark beetle. Then the trees can die. The risk of this is higher in pure spruce forests than in mixed forests.
Man uses the spruces intensively. The forest workers usually cut off the branches of the young spruce trees so that the trunk wood grows knot-free on the inside. So it can be sold more expensive.
The trunks are processed into beams, boards, and strips, but furniture and doors are also often made of spruce wood. Old spruce, which has also grown slowly, is suitable for building musical instruments such as violins. Many spruce trunks are needed to make paper. The branches can also be used: They are even better suited for firewood than the trunks.