Herb: Blue Spruce
Latin name: Picea pungens
Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Edible parts of Blue Spruce:Young male catkins - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring. Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy. The cones are about 7cm long. 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, it is only used when all else fails. Seed - raw. The seed is about 2 - 4mm long. It is rich in fats and has a pleasant slightly resinous flavour but is 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:
Habitat of the herb:Banks of streams or on first benches above them, singly or in small groves, 2000 - 3300 metres.
Other uses of Blue Spruce:A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting. Wood - light, soft, close grained, weak, brittle and often full of knots. The wood has little commercial value, but is used for construction and is also valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper.
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 Blue Spruce:Banks of streams or on first benches above them, singly or in small groves, 2000 - 3300 metres.
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Picea pungens:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.