Black spruce: Wildfires threaten common North American tree species

Black spruce: Wildfires threaten common North American tree species

The black spruce is a common species in North American boreal forests and it needs wildfires to survive, but the blazes are now so frequent that the spruces are struggling



Environment



25 October 2021

A boreal forest with black spruce and mixed hardwood trees in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada

Orchidpoet/Getty Images

For millennia, black spruces (Picea mariana) have been a common presence across Arctic forests in North America, but they are now being threatened by more frequent and severe wildfires.

Like many other trees in these forests, the spruce – an evergreen conifer – depends on fire for regeneration. As fire moves across the landscape, the trees’ cones, which are covered in a waxy coat, heat up and slowly open to release their seeds onto the new seedbed.

But …

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