Many people think that spruces, Douglas-firs, and the true firs look alike. Generally, they do, but look closer. Feel the needles. Spruces have stiff, prickly needles, while Douglas-firs and true firs have soft, flexible needles. Each spruce needle springs from a tiny, woody peg; in fact, this peg is one of the best ways to identify a spruce. Spruce cones hang down from the branches like those of Douglas-fir while true fir cones stand up, but spruce cones do not have Douglas-fir's pitchfork bracts. The scales of most spruce cones are papery thin--yet another difference. And spruce bark is scaly--Douglas-fir and the true firs have smooth or ridged bark.
There are approximately 40 different species of spruce in the world, but only 3 are native to the Pacific Northwest--and only 2 of those are common. Location is probably the best clue to their identity.
only along the Pacific coast, from northern California through southeastern
Alaska, and only near sea level. Needles are often (but
not always) flat in cross section and are typically very sharp. Needles point
in two distinct directions: perpendicular to the twig and toward the tip.
Most needles are 2 distinct colors: green above and blue-green to white below.
For more information on the spruces native to the Pacific Northwest, go to the
species page or
trees by common name trees by scientific name dichotomous key mystery tree
website authors order a book "Trees to Know" more informational sites