E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm.
Engelmann spruce (Engelmann spruce )
Pinaceae (Pine family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #73049)

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Distribution of Picea engelmannii
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This evergreen coniferous tree species is found in BC and Alberta south to northern California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Species Information

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Tree straight, spire-like, up to 50 m tall; bark brownish-red and loosely scaly, thin; young twigs usually hairy, occasionally glabrous.
Needles sharp, not stiff; twisting somewhat toward upper side of branch; 4-angled; strong odour.
Seed cones 4-5 cm long, becoming yellowish-brown at maturity; scales blunt to abruptly sharp-pointed, finely irregular wavy margined, papery thin; pollen cones yellow, 10-15 mm long.
Known to hybridize with P. sitchensis (west side of the Coast-Cascade Mountains) and P. glauca (see notes under P. glauca). Pure P. engelmannii is found mainly in the Rocky Mountains.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry slopes, floodplains, and flats in the montane and subalpine zones; very common in C and S BC, except on coast; E to W AB and S to N CA, AZ and NM.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Picea engelmannii

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 7 1583 2750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 25 420
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 280 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(59), BAFA(17), BWBS(32), CWH(40), ESSF(6158), ICH(654), IDF(168), IMA(28), MH(14), MS(447), PP(2), SBPS(5), SBS(108), SWB(14)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant to very shade­intolerant, montane to subalpine, Cordilleran North American evergreen conifer. Grows on a wide range of sites in continental subalpine and montane boreal climates; its occurrence increases with increasing elevation and continentality. Most productive on fresh and moist, nutrient-very rich soils within cool temperate climates. Scattered to abundant in the coast­interior ecotone, often hybridizes with Sitka spruce. Typically associated with lodgepole pine, Pacific silver fir or subalpine fir and white spruce. Because of good survival and productive growth, Engelmann spruce has been preferred over other tree species in regenerating high-elevation sites on eastern Vancouver Island and in the coast-interior ecotone. Characteristic of continental subalpine forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References