White Spruce and Black Spruce are two of the most common species of the spruce softwood, others being Norway spruce, red spruce, and Sitka spruce.
When it comes to telling apart the white vs black spruce trees, it can be quite challenging as their physical appearances can be very similar. Despite its name, black spruce is actually white in colour and looks almost similar to white spruce, which can make it difficult to identify one from the other. But, worry not! In this article, we talk about the various differences between white spruce and black spruce as well as discuss all the ways to identify them separately.
What is White Spruce?
White Spruce – scientific name: Picea glauca – is a softwood obtained from a famous coniferous tree, which is about 110 ft (34 m) tall and has a 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter.
The trees are commonly found in Northern North America, specifically Canada. The wood has a low janka rating of 480 lbf (2,140 N) and a moderate average dried weight of 27 lbs/ft3 (425 kg/m3).
Like many other softwoods, white spruce is commonly used for paper & pulpwood and crates.
What is Black Spruce?
Black Spruce – scientific name: Picea mariana – is also a softwood of the same genus. It also grows in Northern North America (Canada). However, the trees are relatively short, with an average height of about 30-50 ft and a 1-1.5 ft average trunk diameter.
As a softwood, black spruce is not very strong, dense or durable. The average dried weight is 28 lbs/ft3 (450 kg/m3) and the Janka rating is only 520 lbf (2,320 N).
This is normally used for pulpwood, millwork, and crates. Black spruce is also famously used for Christmas trees.
White Spruce vs Black Spruce
There are not a lot of visible differences between white spruce and black spruce. Their trees also look alike. However, when closely looked at, you’ll find many differences both in trees and in sawn wood. Here you go.
|White Spruce||Black Spruce|
|Average Dried Weight||27 lbs/ft3 (425 kg/m3)||28 lbs/ft3 (450 kg/m3)|
|Specific Gravity||.33, .43||.38, .45|
|Janka Hardness||480 lbf (2,140 N)||520 lbf (2,320 N)|
|Modulus of Rupture||8,640 lbf/in2 (59.6 MPa)||10,100 lbf/in2 (69.7 MPa)|
|Elastic Modulus||1,315,000 lbf/in2 (9.07 GPa)||1,523,000 lbf/in2 (10.50 GPa)|
|Crushing Strength||4,730 lbf/in2 (32.6 MPa)||5,410 lbf/in2 (37.3 MPa)|
|Shrinkage||Radial: 4.7%, Tangential: 8.2%, Volumetric: 13.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.7||Radial: 4.1%, Tangential: 6.8%, Volumetric: 11.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.7|
Colour: Both white and black spruce are almost creamy white. The sapwood colour may have a hint of yellow. There are also sometimes streaks or inconsistent shapes.
Grain & Texture: Both species have a fine, even texture with a straight grain.
Tree height: White spruce trees are longer than black spruce and have a 30-34m average height as compared to the 5-15 m average height of black spruce trees. The trunk of white spruce trees is also wider.
Trees: White Spruce trees generally grow on well-drained soils, while black spruce trees can go anywhere, even on thin soils. The bark on white spruce trees is greyish-brown, thin and loose. The black spruce tree bark is reddish-brown and not always equally shaped. Both are cone-producing trees. While cones in trees are lathe and pointed, black spruce trees have smaller and almost round cones.
Weight: In terms of weight, dried black spruce is heavier than white spruce, though the difference is minimal. The average dried weight is 425 kg/m3 for white spruce and 450 kg/m3 for black spruce.
Hardness: Black spruce is harder and denser when compared to white spruce. Again, the difference is not much. Both are relatively softer in terms of general hardness standards.
Durability: White spruce is not durable. The wood is only slightly resistant to decay and rot. The same is true for black spruce.
Because of their similar properties and physical appearance, both white spruce and black spruce are equally good for a variety of applications.
White Spruce Uses
Because it’s a coniferous tree with short, stiff needles and consistent branches, it is commonly used as a Christmas tree. White spruce wood is also used for making Go or Weiqi boards, which are used for playing a famous Japanese board game.
Other than that, white spruce is used for paper, pulpwood, crates, millwork, furniture, mobile homes, pallets, and construction lumber. White spruce is also sometimes used for making soundboards for the piano.
Black Spruce Uses
Black spruce is a good quality, cheap softwood that can be used for a wide range of projects. It is primarily used for pulp in the paper industry. Black spruce lumber is cheap and easily available and used in many basic construction projects. However, it’s only available in small sizes because of the small tree size. Other uses of black spruce include Christmas trees, crates, boxes, millwork, beverages (tree), and construction lumber.
Workability, Availability & Price
Workability: Both types of spruce are equally easy to work with. Though the presence of knots can sometimes create problems. They are easy to glue and finish, but staining or colouring can be a problem due to closed pores.
Availability: Spruce suitable for construction and most other purposes is easily and widely available at a cheap price, though quarter sawn pieces without knots can be difficult to find and are expensive. Both white and black spruce are easily available at a low cost.
Price: The price of white spruce and black spruce is moderate for imported wood. Quarter Sawn pieces with figured patterns and/or without knots can be more expensive.
Buy Spruce Wood & Timber Online
Both white spruce and black spruce are very common in the UK. They are used for everything from low-cost furniture to construction, paper, millwork, and more.
If you are looking for the best place to buy top quality spruce wood or timber at the lowest price in the UK, contact us at White Knight Consulting Ltd. We are one of the top suppliers & exporters of construction-grade wood in the UK and can deliver any amount of timber to your place anywhere in the country. We deal in 40+ species of hardwood and softwood lumber, including white spruce and black spruce. Contact us to enquire about availability and price.