3/07/2013

Sooke Sitka Spruce

A Sitka spruce framed by Western red-cedars

Sitka spruce is the largest spruce variety in the world, growing up to 100 meters tall in places like Vancouver Island's Carmanah Valley where Canada's tallest spruce trees live.

However, it is not a dominant tree in the Sooke region and over most of Vancouver Island away from the wild west coast.

In fact, the easterly-most concentration of Sitka spruce trees in this area can be found in the Royal Roads old growth forest in Colwood, about 25 minutes from Sooke. Although the spruce trees get by in the Royal Roads forest, they are dominated by the more plentiful (and larger) Douglas firs.



Dark green = prime habitat, light green = marginal habitat.


Sooke lies in a transition zone between the dryer Douglas-fir ecozone to the east, and the wetter Western hemlock zone to the west (where the salt-tolerant Sitka are common along the coast). While Sitka spruce are not plentiful here, but some nice specimens can be found, often up river valleys or fringing beaches on the ocean.



Sitka spruce bark is reddish-brown and forms large, loose scales

Sitka spruce are the fastest growing trees in the coastal forest, and can live up to 800 years. Some nice specimens can be found up the Sooke River, as well as in the Muir Creek old growth forest.


Sitka spruce have a beautiful shape

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