Harvesting Spruce Trees for Food and Medicine

| 12/15/2017 8:48:00 AM

While living in Alaska, I was surrounded by Black Spruce trees (picea mariana) and took delight in being able to harvest newly-formed tips from this tree. The Black Spruce can reach up to 80 feet and is found in the northern parts of North America, growing in muskegs, bogs, and bottomlands.

black spruce tree 

Alaskan Natives used the inner bark for tea, and the pitch to waterproof handmade baskets and seal their birch bark boats. The tree is now utilized for wood, pulp, fuel, Christmas trees, and other products.

Essential oil obtained from the tree is used in various methods for calming, opening the sinus passages, providing mental clarity, and as a disinfectant. The tips can be used to make an antimicrobial cream to help with skin issues or as an anti-inflammatory salve for muscle pain. A tea made from the tips has expectorant properties which can help with lung issues.

Spruce tips are very high in vitamin C and were used by Captain Cook to ward off scurvy. The tender tips can be harvested in the spring, summer, or anytime available and used as a food source in salads, soups, dressings, desserts, and beer.

close-up spruce branches with new tips