Herb: Chinese Spruce


Latin name: Picea asperata


Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)



Edible parts of Chinese Spruce:

Young male catkins - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring. Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy. Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. An emergency food when all else fails. Seed - raw. Too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are desperate. A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
40 m
(131 feet)

Flovering:
April

Habitat of the herb:

Forests, forming extensive pure stands at 2000 - 3800 metres. Mountains and river basins at elevations of 2400 - 3600 metres.

Other uses of Chinese Spruce:

Wood - soft, not strong. Used in general construction. It is also valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper. The timber is used for construction, aircraft, railway sleepers, furniture, and wood fiber. The trunk is used for producing resin. The roots, branches, and leaves are used for producing aromatic oils.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - stratification will probably improve germination so sow fresh seed in the autumn in a cold frame if possible. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. A position in light shade is probably best. Seed should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a cool place. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year, or be placed in an outdoor nursery bed for a year or so to increase in size. They might need protection from spring frosts. Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, August in a frame. Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring. Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 - 10cm long, September/October in a cold frame. Takes 12 months. Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but sure.

Cultivation of Chinese Spruce:

Forests, forming extensive pure stands at 2000 - 3800 metres. Mountains and river basins at elevations of 2400 - 3600 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Picea asperata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.