Herb: Sargent Spruce

Latin name: Picea brachytyla

Synonyms: Picea complanata

Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Edible parts of Sargent 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:


40 m
(131 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Woodlands, 1600 - 2000 metres. Mountain slopes, valleys and river basins at elevations of 1500 - 3800 mtres.

Other uses of Sargent Spruce:

Wood - soft, not strong. Used for general construction. It is also valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper. The timber is used for construction, aircraft, machines, and wood pulp.

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 Sargent Spruce:

Woodlands, 1600 - 2000 metres. Mountain slopes, valleys and river basins at elevations of 1500 - 3800 mtres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Picea brachytyla:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.