The Brewer spruce or Brewer’s weeping spruce or weeping spruce (Picea breweriana S.Watson, 1885) is an arboreal species belonging to the pinaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
P. breweriana species
The terms are synonymous:
– Picea pendula S.Watson.
– Pinus breweriana (S.Watson) Voss.
The term picea is the Latin name of the wild pine in Virgil and Pliny.
The specific brewerian epithet was attributed in honor of William Henry Brewer, an American botanist, who was the first to collect this species on the flanks of Mount Shasta, in 1863.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Picea breweriana is a conifer endemic to a small mountain area on the border between California and Oregon, in the United States.
Its range is limited to the Klamath Mountains, the Siskiyou Mountains and the Trinity Mountains. Although the habitat is small and fragmented in size, this plant is quite rustic and tolerant both of climatic conditions and of soil fertility.
Its habitat is those of mountain areas at altitudes between 1160 and 2290 m, preferring rocky soils of volcanic origin; the climate is cold and humid, with annual rainfall between 1000 and 2800 mm, characterized by snowy winters and hot, dry summers. It is a typical species of mixed forests, in association with about fifteen conifers (the most common are Pseudotsuga menziesii and Abies magnifica var. Shastensis), specialized in colonizing less fertile soils, thus bearing competition with other species.
Picea breweriana is a conifer that grows to heights of about 40 m with a single trunk that can reach 1.5 m in diameter, with a conical crown.
It has a bark, initially gray, which then turns brown over the years.
The branches and the shoots are hanging; these are elongated, slender, covered with fine hair, and gray-brown in color.
The leaves are needle-like, rather rigid, flattened or with a large triangular section, with blunt tips, dark green on the upper side, bluish-green on the lower side, 1,5-3 cm long; they have stomata only inferiorly, arranged on several bands. The vegetative buds are 5-7 mm long, with rounded gray-brown tips.
Male strobili are brown in color, 2-2.5 cm long.
The female cones are cylindrical, 6.5-12 cm long, initially dark red-purple, then red-brown when ripe. Macrosporophylls have a fan shape, are 15-20 mm long and wide, hard, with an entire or slightly eroded margin.
Picea breweriana is a hardy plant that grows in an area with cold winters and on predominantly rocky and volcanic soils of the Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California and grows at moderately high altitudes.
For its cultivation it is necessary to choose very permeable soils with a coarse grain size.
Multiplication occurs by seed. Sowing must be carried out preliminarily in an unheated seedbed and it is advisable to grow the seedlings for the first year in pots to be transplanted then with all the earthen bread in the spring of the following year.
For the first time, especially in the summer period, it will be necessary to keep the soil more humid but without ever generating stagnation.
Customs and Traditions –
The Picea breweriana, despite sharing the same habitat and the same territory with P. engelmannii and P. sitchensis, does not hybridize with these species for which there is a certain genetic separation, which makes us consider this conifer as the most ancient species of spruce of western North America, relic of the Tertiary era.
Furthermore, DNA analyzes have shown that Picea breweriana has a basal position in the Picea clade, suggesting that the entire genus is native to North America.
Outside its native range, it is grown as a much admired ornamental tree in gardens, particularly in Great Britain and Scandinavia, where it is prized for its hanging foliage.
However, its wood is of low quality and has no particular uses.
From the ecological point of view, it has a restricted area of about 775 km² and a secondary area of about 12000 km²; in the 6-8 locations where it grows, it is a fairly common species, even if with signs of decline. The greatest risks for the conservation of the species are mainly linked to climate change and the possibility of forest fires, which are capable of extinguishing an entire subpopulation. For these reasons it is classified as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.
Preparation Method –
Picea breweriana is a conifer that has no particular uses both from a food and a medicinal point of view.
The uses of its wood are of little importance, while due to its aesthetic appearance it can be of great interest from an ornamental point of view.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.