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Reproduction of the morinda spruce

Reproduction of the morinda spruce

The morinda spruce or West Himalayan spruce (Picea smithiana (Wall.) Boiss., 1884) is a plant of the Pinaceae family, originally from Afghanistan (Hindu Kush), from Pakistan (Karakorum and Gilgit-Baltistan), from China (Tibet), Nepal and India (Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh).
This conifer grows, in its areas of origin between 2300 and 3750 meters of altitude, in areas characterized by a monsoon climate. Thanks to its elegant bearing it is a precious ornamental essence, cultivated in historical parks and botanical gardens

Suitable breeding habitat –
Picea smithiana is a plant that grows between 2300 and 3750 meters above sea level, in areas characterized by a monsoon climate.
In the eastern part of the range it is usually found associated with Abies spectabilis, Pinus wallichiana and Tsuga dumosa, in the western part with Abies Pindrow and Cedrus deodara. At lower altitudes it is also found associated with deciduous trees such as Aesculus indica and species of the genera Ulmus, Quercus, Acer and Prunus.

Propagation –
For the cultivation of Picea smithiana it should be borne in mind that in addition to vegetating at high altitudes, it prefers alpine lithosols and in a humid and monsoonal climate, with abundant rainfall. Among other things, in winter, part of the precipitation is snowy.
This plant therefore prefers good humidity at the roots. It tolerates poor and peaty soils and grows well in humid, cold and shallow soils, but is not very resistant to the action of wind in shallow soils.
The substrate can also be calcareous but prefers a pH between 4 and 6. It does not like shade, it is intolerant to atmospheric pollution.
Trees should be planted in their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm. Larger trees will have poor control and stunted growth for several years. This also negatively affects root development and wind resistance.
Propagation occurs by seed which, possibly, should be stratified to improve germination; therefore, fresh seeds should be sown in autumn, if possible, in a cold environment. The seeds already stored should be sown as early as possible at the beginning of the year in a cold seedbed. For germination it is advisable to place the seedbed in the light shade it is probably. Furthermore, the seeds should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a cool place.
Transplanting should be done when the seedlings are large enough to be handled and inside a cold greenhouse for their first winter. The definitive transplant must be operated at the beginning of the summer of the following year or, again, they can be placed in an outdoor nursery for about a year to increase their size. Depending on the external climatic conditions, these plants may need protection from spring frosts.
The multiplication of Picea smithiana can also take place by cuttings of semi-mature terminal shoots, 5 – 8 cm long, to be carried out in August. These must then be protected from frost and will form their roots in spring. It is also possible to prepare cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 – 10 cm long, to be planted in September / October in a cold greenhouse. Their complete rooting takes about 12 months.
Finally, another agamic multiplication method is that using soft to semi-mature wood cuttings in early summer. The latter system is slower but with good results.

Ecology –
Himalayan spruce is a plant that plays an important role as a shelter and refuge for local fauna and is also used for both bark and wood.
The bark is very resistant to water and is also used locally for coverings and to make drinking troughs. Furthermore, small quantities of resin are obtained from both the bark and the wood. The latter has a soft to moderately hard texture. It is used in construction, crates, household uses, etc. but it is also appreciated for its use in the pulp industry to produce paper. It is also an ineffective fuel but it produces quite good coal.

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