Sitka Spruce trees

Alaska's Sitka Spruce

The Sitka Spruce is Alaska’s state tree! They thrive from northern California, northwest along the coastline to the Alaska Peninsula. They grow straight and true from sea level to tree line, and reach typical heights of 150 to 225 feet, with a five- to eight-foot diameter, and will live between 500-700 years.

The Sitka Spruce grows larger in the southern reaches of its range, and can measure 330-feet high exceeding a 16-foot diameter. Sitka Spruce is superior to many of the hardwoods such as Rosewood, Mahogany, or Maple due to its straight grain, and is highly prized by stringed instrument makers. During the northern seasons, these hardy trees withstand some of the most brutal storms and frigid winter conditions … only the strongest endure!

These images are the majestic Sitka Spruce trees in Prince William Sound that have stood through the ages … just tiny saplings somewhere in between the 1300s and 1500s. Many forests have grown to maturity and fallen to rot over millennia since the glaciers first began to recede, opening up the sculpted coastlines and mountain ranges of Alaska about 12,000 years ago. The lower left image shows a massive root ball of a giant spruce ripped out of the ground by dynamic storm winds after vast periods surviving a myriad of fierce tempests. The two top-center images show smaller inland Sitka Spruce, which have a much slower growth rate, split vertically by ground expansion due to the extreme sub-zero temperatures of Alaska’s Interior.

Alaska has 129,000,000 forested acres, with the 17,000,000-acre Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska being the largest U.S. national forest, and the world's largest remaining temperate rainforest.

All images © Dave Parkhurst