Spruce are evergreen trees in the genus Picea. They range in height from 65 to 200 feet tall and are common in boreal forests. Their wood is classified as softwood based on its characteristics.
According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, woods are classified as hardwood or softwood not based on their durability but based on the type of tree and the structure of its wood. Deciduous angiosperms like oak are hardwoods, while gymnosperms like spruce are softwoods.
Softwoods like spruce have a simpler structure than hardwoods and the structure varies less between different species. Most of the cells in softwood are longitudinal tracheids, which act as tubes to conduct water. Some of the tracheids are thick-walled, but the most are thin-walled.
While the structure of wood in different softwoods is fairly similar, spruce does exhibit some distinguishing characteristics. Like pines and larches, spruce wood has resin canals, which supply resin to seal up wounds in the tree's bark. Unlike pines and like larches, spruce wood has small resin canals. Unlike pines, spruce wood has relatively little scent.
Based in San Diego, John Brennan has been writing about science and the environment since 2006. His articles have appeared in "Plenty," "San Diego Reader," "Santa Barbara Independent" and "East Bay Monthly." Brennan holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.