From the Land of Salt and Spruce

Spruce-sketch-page

Seems to me that Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) are the defining tree species of Southeast Alaska's forests. Although western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) are more abundant, spruce are more prominent. They grow where we like to go: along coastlines, on riverbanks, on the outwash plains of glaciers. And they follow where we've been: old village sites, abandoned mining ruins, forgotten roads.

My favorite spruce are the ones that colonize this region's uplift meadows (extravagant, lush parklands created as former tidelands are lifted from the sea by glacial rebound). These "wolf spruce" are sturdy, cheerfully-symmetrical little trees, bristling with vigor and growing almost fast enough to watch. I drew this one (and a cone from an older cousin) a few years ago near the Brotherhood Bridge, north of Juneau.

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