Aker Woods: Tree Species (Black Hills Spruce)
There is some dispute on whether Black Hills Spruce is a separate species. Many experts who have studied it closely believe there is good reason to classify it as a subspecies of Northern White Spruce. The Black Hills strain has evolved with different characteristics because it is so isolated from other White Spruce species, which grow in Canada and the extreme Northeastern United States. Most likely, it exists in the Black Hills because much cooler temperatures in past ice ages expanded the range of White Spruce southward out of Canada. As temperatures rose, the Black Hills became an island of suitable habitat while the range of White Spruce retreated northward. It has denser foliage and a bluer color to it's needles than other White Spruces. It's visual appeal has made it incresingly popular at nurseries and Christmas tree lots.
In the Black Hills, Spruce grow best in the highest elevations, in the bottoms of canyons, and along steep, north-facing slopes. Thier limbs arch gracefully to the ground, which makes them more vulnerable to wildfires than other trees in the Black Hills.
The wood dries easily and is stable after drying, is moderately light in weight and easily worked, has moderate shrinkage, and is moderately strong, stiff, tough, and hard. It is straight, even grained, soft and finishes with a satin-like surface. The wood is creamy white or straw colored, and there is little difference between the heartwood and sapwood. The knots are small, and regularly-spaced along the length of a board or beam. It's preferred for contruction of musical instruments such as pianos and guitars. Spruce is more resistant to rot than Pine. Occassionally, red streaks of color are visible in the lumber.