Anda di halaman 1dari 8

12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Hereismorethanyouperhaps
evercaredtoknowabout
Europeanspruce...
...orwhattothinkwhensomeoneproclaims
theyhaveatopofGerman(orItalian,or
Swiss,orCarpathian,orFrench,or
Jugoslavian)spruce.

MypersonalsearchforTheTruthAboutSprucehasbeenongoingformanyyears,buttooka
turnwhensomeoneinsistedthatPiceaabiesandPiceaexcelsaweretwonamesforthesame
species.Ihadalwaysunderstoodtheywereseparate,asthewoodsassociatedwiththetwo
nameswerecertainly(Ithought)quitedifferent.Igotbusywiththeweb,somebooksand
spokeatlengthwithacoupleofexperts.Igainedabetterideaofwhat'swhatnowwith
Europeanspruce,andhere'swhatIfoundout.
Firstofall,theguywholumpedthemtogetherwasrightandIwasoutofdate.Intermsofthe
lutherieworld,orforthatmattertheworldofplantbiology,thereisbutonespeciesofspruce
usedforlutherieinallofEurope:Piceaabies.
ThemapbelowshowsthethreecurrentEuropeanrangesofPiceaabies,atreecommonly
knownasNorwayspruceintheUSandCanada,epicacommuninFrance,pinettede
NorvgeinQubec,gemeinefichteorrotefichteinGerman,andjeleuropeiskayainRussia.
Othercommonnamesabound,andtheoverridingone,inmanylanguages,isthetranslated
localequivalentofredspruce.
Hereisonereasonit'sknownasredspruce:

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 1/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Here'samapoftherangeofPiceaabies:

Aswithmostspruces,thesetreesnaturallyandhistoricallyliveincooler,higherelevations,
preferringlotsofmoistureandrich,somewhatacidicsoils.Theoriginalrangeincludesmost
ofEuropeoutsidepermafrostfromtheScandinavianarcticdowntonorthernGreece,westto
theFrenchMassifCentral.ThenorthernrangeextendsoffthemaptowardstheUralswhereit
meetsandhybridizeswithPiceaobovata.
P.abieshasbeenplantedallovertheplanetbynow,andadaptstoawidevarietyofsoilsand
climatesprobablybecauseitsurvivedtheIceAge.Thelargestknownexampleofoneisina
parkjustwestofMoscow,thoughthisisananomaly,sincethesetreestypicallydon'tlive
longerthanabout200years.Tinyremnantsofthepreglacierandprehumanimpactolder
rangearefoundinthePyrenees,downthecenterofItaly,andalongthesouthcoastofthe
BlackSea,innorthernTurkey.
Themostsoutherlyofthethreerangesinthismap(darkestgreen)liesinFrance,
Switzerland,ItalyandabitofAustriaandSloveniainotherwords,thesouthfaceofthe
AlpstrailingdownthroughthemountainouspartsofBosnia,Herzegovina,Serbiaand
Montenegro,withremnantsinBulgariaandtheBalkans.Thisisthepartofthehistorical
rangethatescapedglaciationandprovidedthereservoirforthereintroductionofthespecies
backintothenorthernrangesaftertheglaciersretreated.
Thesprucesofthelowerrangewere,untilrecently,taxonomicallyclassifiedasPiceaexcelsa.
Manysourcesstillrefertothatasaspecies,whilesomerefertoitastheGermanbotanical
designationforPiceaabies.Inanycase,Piceaexcelsahasnowbeenfoldedtogetherwith
http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 2/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Piceaabiesasasinglespecies.IfyouseethetermPiceaexcelsa,it'llbeinorreferencedto
olderliterature.Thetreesinthelowerrangearealsostillclassifiedbysomebotanistsasa
subspeciescalledPiceaabiesv.excelsa.Itisdebatableifthisisawisedesignation,asthe
onlythingdistinguishingthissocalledsubspeciesishowitgrowsinthatenvironment.A
propos,thisistherangefromwhichtheCremonesemasterviolinmakersandthelutherieelite
ofEuropehashistoricallygottentheirwood.
Thewhitebandseparatingthetwolowerrangesinthemapabovemarksthehighelevations
oftheAlpswhereicebergstrytogrow,whilethelargerblankareaeastofthereisthe
lowlandsofHungaryandsoon.
ThemiddlelightgreenrangeonthenorthslopeoftheAlpsandacrosssouthernGermany
andeastintoPolandandCzechoslovakiacontainsPiceaabies,mostofwhichhasbeen
reintroducedsince1800.Becauseofthethoroughexploitationanddevastationoftheforests
throughtheendofthe18thcenturyandtheenormoustimberdemandinearlyindustrial
times,thenaturalforests,whichhadalreadyregrownaftertheretreatoftheglaciers,were
eliminatedandeventuallyrebornasartificialforests.Ironically,theseedstockforthe
reintroducedPiceaabiescamefromtherelativelyunscathedScandinavianrange(gray
green)atthetopofthemap,whichhadreestablisheditselffromthatsouthernreservoirafter
thelastIceAge.
Today,Piceaabiescomprises35%of
thetreecoverinGermany,andmost
ofthatisinmanagedforests.Among
theothermajorconifersinGerman
forestsarePiceaglauca,anAmerican
import,andDouglasfir,another
Americanimport.Thesetreeshave
beengrownsuccessfullyinGermany
foraverylongtime(seebelow).
Itisanironythatoverthelastfifty
yearsorso,forestmanagementinGermanyhasincreasedforestsizeconsiderably(instark
contrasttotherestoftheworld)butitsairpollutionissoextreme(largelyblowinginfrom
othercountries)thattheforestsareveryunhealthyandtheyieldfromthatacreageis
decreasing.Piceaabiesisacutelyvulnerabletothepollutionproblems,notablyacidrain.
ThesephotosarefromtheAlpsinBavaria:

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 3/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Moreinformationaboutacidrainhere.
Moreover,ifyouhaveeverspenttimetalkingwoodwithinstrumentmakersinGermany,they
willchuckleandtellyoutheyconsider"Germanspruce"notjustamisnomerbutan
unlikelihood.Theygenerallygettheirsprucefromfarthersouth,inItaly,Slovenia,
SwitzerlandorFrance.Thishasalwaysbeenthesourceofthebestlutheriespruce.AsHorst
Grnert,abassandcellomakerinPenzberg,Bavaria,oncecheerfullytoldme,he'dgoright
outwithhischainsawandgettherarespruceinGermanyifhecouldfindit,buthesaidthat
forallintentsandpurposes,ithadbeenextinctinGermanyforseveralcenturies(again,see
below).ThespruceIwasseeingallovertheAlpswas,hesaid,goodforfencepostsandpulp,
andthat'swhatitwasfarmedfor.Outsideofparksandsoon,Ineversawtreeslargerthan
abouteightincheseither.That'sthemintheabovethreephotos.Iknowofonlyonewood

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 4/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

cutterinsidetheGermanborder,highintheAlpsclosetoSwitzerland,whoharvestsandmills
spruceforlutherie.
Inconclusion,believethis:
Germansprucepossible,butprobablynot.DealersinGermanyselllotsofgoodspruce,
butit'sseldomifeverfromtreesharvestedonGermansoil.(IknowofbutoneGerman
woodcuttersellingGermangrownP.abiesforluthiers.)Ithereforeseetheterm"German
spruce"asacodewordforPiceaabies,theEuropeanspruce.
Italian,Swiss,French,Jugoslavian,Swedish,Carpathian,andItalianspruceyes,
especiallyifit'sPiceaabies(orPiceaexcelsa),whichitalmostcertainlyis.

ForanintriguinglookatCarpathianspruce,
clickheretovisitthesiteofJohnPreston's
OldWorldTonewoodCompany.John
reallyknowshisstuffandbringsingreat
wood.Besureandcheckhisphotogallery.

Anotheroutstandingandwellknownwoodcutter
isBruceHarvie,ofOrcasIslandTonewoods.
BrucedealsintonewoodsofthewesternUSfor
themostpart.Byallmeanscheckouthismusic
aswell.

Makersandconsumersengageinand
disseminateagreatdealofmisinformation
tradingthesamestoriesfromunquestioned
sources.Interestingly,thepeoplewhoactuallygo
outintothewildernessafterthisstuffonbehalf
ofinstrumentmakershaveabackgroundin
botanyandreallyknowthefacts.

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 5/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Sidebar:Intercontinentaltradeinforestseedwasestablishedinthe
early1700s,whenseedofseveraleasternAmericanspecies(yellow
locustbeingabigone)werefrequentlyshippedtoEurope,mainlyfor
useinornamentalplantations.RegularforestplantationsofPicea
glauca(whitespruce),Pinusstrobus(easternwhitepine),andafew
otherAmericanconifers,however,alsobegantobecultivatedin
Europeshortlyafter1700.
ThefirstseedsamplesofnorthwesternAmericanspecies,includingDouglasfirandSitka
spruce,weresenttoEuropeabout1825bythefamousbotanicalexplorer,DavidDouglas.
Tradeonasubstantialscaleinthesespecies,however,didnotbeginuntilaftertheopeningof
thePacificRailroadin1869.ThecenterofthetradeinthosedayswasSanFrancisco,where
seedfromthenorthwestwasshippedbyboatandthenceeastbytraintodealersonthe
Atlanticcoast,ordirecttocustomersinEurope.DarmstadtinGermanywastheotherendof
thepipelineinthistrade.
BearinginmindthatPiceaglaucawasintroducedintoEuropeabout1700fromAmericaand
mainlyusedinshelterbeltplantings,itmaybementioned,merelyasacuriousfact,thatseed
ofthisspecieshasbeenexportedinconsiderablequantitiesfromEurope(Denmark)to
Canadaduringthelastdecades.EvenseedofsuchAmericanspeciesasSitkaspruceand
westernredcedar(both,however,ofselectedorigin)haverecentlybeenexportedfrom
DenmarktoAmericandealers.Thisisindeedanimprovedforestseedversionof"carrying
coalstoNewcastle."

Onceagain,GermansprucesoldtothelutherieworldisoftensprucesoldbyGermandealers,
andwhateverspeciesofspruceitactuallyistendstocomefromavarietyofsources,
includingacertainamounthistoricallyimportedfromtheUSandCanada.Engelmannspruce,
forexample,isverypopularamongluthiersandfordecadeshasbeenexportedtoEurope
whereithasbeensoldbacktoAmericans(amongothers)asyouguesseditGerman
spruce.Andbecauseofthelutherietrade,sprucefromanywhereinEuropeisprettymuch
identifiednowasGermanspruce.
Unlessyoucutthetreeyourselforcanbeabsolutelycertainwherethattreewasharvested,it
isprobablysafesttojustcallitspruce.Ifyou'recertainitgrewandwasharvestedinEurope,
there'snopointingettingyourturbaninatwistovercommonnames.Ifsomeonesays
Germanspruce,justthink,"OK,Piceaabies,orEuropeanspruce."

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 6/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

Ithinktodiscernanydifferencesbetween,say,ItalianandSwedishandFrenchspruce,you
needonlylooktosomeanalogsinthelocal(NorthAmerican)spruces,becausesomany
examplesliebeforeus,arecordthatishugeandfresh.Justconsiderthestaggeringoutputof
thebigguitarmakingconcernslikeMartin,Gibson,andTaylor,nottomentionfolkslike
SCGC,Bourgeois,Collingsandsoon.Whataconsistentandgenerousresourcefortherestof
us,justtoexamineandevaluatetheirresults.Forstarters,manythousandsofguitarsbythese
majormakersaremadefromSitkathatgrewinBritishColumbia,orOregon,orotherplaces.
Cananyonetellthemapart?Bythesametoken,isEngelmannfromNewMexicoreliably
discerniblefromEngelmannfromCanada?Cananyonetellthemapartafterthey'vebeen
madeintoguitars?
Continuinginguitarbrain,heresanotherangle.Sincetheenormousoutputcenterslargelyon
afewbasicmodels(dreadnought,OM,etc.),wecansafelyconsiderandcompareaverylarge
numberofguitarsmadeofdifferentspeciesofspruce.Isanyoneofthemdistincttonally?
http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 7/8
12/3/2017 Europeanspruceranges,andcommentaryonPiceaspp.

No,notreally.Weallknowthatsomeguitarsmadefrom[x]speciesareterrific,someare
blah,regardlessofageorspecies.Cananyonetellthemapartvisually?Ofcoursenot,it's
simplynotpossible.Anyspruceiscapableoflookingexactlylikeanyother,becausespruce,
beingwoodafterall,isnotahomogeneoussubstanceatall.PiceaabiesfromJugoslaviais
usuallyidenticalinappearancetoPicearubensfromtheAdirondacksandPiceaengelmannii
fromnorthernIdaho.EvenSitka,whichsomefolksferventlybelieveisverydistinguishable,
canmimicotherspecies,andconversely,thedarklinesthatsupposedtobesotelltaleinSitka
showupinlotsofAlpinesprucetoo.Theonlywaytobecertainofasprucespeciesisoneof
thefollowing:
1)keythelivingtreeandharvestityourself
2)haveatrainedscientistwithahighpoweredmicroscope,alibraryofappropriatereference
samplesandalotofskillandexperience,giveitaseriouslabanalysis.Andrealizethat
there'sevensomequestionabouttheabsolutereliabilityofthismethodthebestthereis
becausethereferencesamplelibrariesarenotalwayscompleteandcomprehensive.
Otherthanthatyouareoperatingonpurefaithintheseller,oronpureimagination,because
thingsarequiteoftennotwhattheyseem.
Backtomyearlierpoint,andaboutprovenance:EngelmanncomesfromBritishColumbia
anditalsocomesfromNewMexico.That'sasbigageographicspreadasSwedenandItaly.
SitkacomesfromAlaskaandfromnorthernCaliforniasamething.Adirondackcomesfrom
GeorgiaandfromQubecsamething.Isthereanyreliablecoherencewithinspecies?Don't
betonit.Weknowthemall,weseemanyexamplesoftheirapplications,andthatexperience,
weferventlyhope,informsus.Butnotbasedonahandfulofanecdotes.
Andthat'sfollowingthenotionthatlocationmeansanythingdefinitiveI'mreallynotsureit
does,exceptinageneralsense.There'sgoodandbadsprucefromanylocation,anyspecies.
Weallknowthis.Speciesand/orlocationisinterestingchatter,butcanbeawasteoftime
too.
Beingabletolistentoandhearapromisingpieceofwood,andknowinghowtobring
outitspotential,iswhatitisreallyallabout.

Dropmealineclickhere!
Myhomepage(you'reherealready,whynothavealook?)

http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html 8/8