A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 meters (about 60–200 feet) tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form. The needles, or leaves, of spruce trees are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion, each needle on a small peg-like structure called a pulvinus. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pulvinus (an easy means of distinguishing them from other similar genera, where the branches are fairly smooth).
The word spruce entered the English language from the Polish name of Prusy (a historical region, today part of Poland). It became spruce because in Polish, z Prus, sounded like “spruce” in English (transl. “from Prussia”) and was a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants, and because the tree was believed to have come from Polish Ducal Prussia.
DNA analyses have shown that traditional classifications based on the morphology of needle and cone are artificial. A recent study found that P. breweriana had a basal position, followed by P. sitchensis, and the other species were further divided into three clades, suggesting that Picea originated in North America.
Picea mariana (black spruce), where the essential oil is extracted from, is a North American species of spruce tree in the pine family. It is widespread across Canada, found in all 10 provinces and all 3 Arctic territories. Its range extends into northern parts of the United States: in Alaska, the Great Lakes region, and the Northeast. It is a frequent part of the biome known as taiga or boreal forest.
Picea mariana is a slow-growing, small upright evergreen coniferous tree (rarely a shrub), having a straight trunk with little taper, a scruffy habit, and a narrow, pointed crown of short, compact, drooping branches with upturned tips. Through much of its range it averages 5–15 m tall with a trunk 15–50 cm diameter at maturity, though occasional specimens can reach 30 m tall and 60 cm diameter. The bark is thin, scaly, and grayish brown. The leaves are needle-like, 6–15 mm long, stiff, four-sided, dark bluish green on the upper sides, paler glaucous green below. The cones are the smallest of all of the spruces, 1.5–4 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, spindle-shaped to nearly round, dark purple ripening red-brown, produced in dense clusters in the upper crown, opening at maturity but persisting for several years.
Natural hybridization occurs regularly with the closely related Picea rubens (red spruce), and very rarely with Picea glauca (white spruce).
It differs from P. glauca in having a dense cover of small hairs on the bark of young branch tips, an often darker reddish-brown bark, shorter needles, smaller and rounder cones, and a preference for wetter lowland areas. Numerous differences in details of its needle and pollen morphology also exist but require careful microscopic examination to detect. From true firs, such as Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir), it differs in having pendulous cones, persistent woody leaf-bases, and four-angled needles, arranged all round the shoots.
Due to the large difference between heartwood and sapwood moisture content, it is easy to distinguish these two wood characteristics in ultrasound images, which are widely used as a nondestructive technique to assess the internal condition of the tree and avoid useless log breakdown.
What is Spruce Essential Oil?
Spruce essential oil (Black spruce) is steam distilled from the needles and twigs of Canadian Black Spruce trees. Similar to the Eastern Hemlock variety, but a little more ‘deep forest’ in aroma, whereas the Hemlock has a brighter ‘Christmas tree’ scent. The aroma is both calming and elevating, excellent for yoga and meditative use, or uplifting the atmosphere of any space. The aroma is thought to enhance yoga and other meditation practices.
Spruce essential oil is described by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt in ‘Advanced Aromatherapy’ as particularly suited to restoring depleted and overworked adrenal glands in this formula: 5% Black Spruce essential oil and 5% Pine oil in Hazelnut oil. Apply regularly to the kidney area. This formula can be expanded with the addition of Peppermint oil and Cedarwood oil for a stimulating blend.
The sharp, bluish-green needle-like leaves of the tree are the primary source of essential oil, which is extracted through the process of steam distillation. Spruce essential oil has a much milder, sweeter scent compared to other oils from the evergreen family. It is sweeter, and softer than most evergreen oils with a balsamic, resinous odor with green woody notes. Overall, the scent is very clean, fresh and pleasant.
The bark of the Spruce tree, which also contains essential oil components, is current in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia as indicated for diarrhea, cystitis, mucous colitis, leucorrhoea, uterine prolapse, pharyngitis, stomatitis and gingivitis.
Spruce essential oil, with its purifying and cleansing attributes, promotes an openness and clarity for the mind. It is of great tonifying benefit to the support clear, smooth breathing. Keep a bottle on hand throughout the winter to use in your diffuser at the first sign of your family becoming congested. Applied to the muscle and joints in dilution spruce essential oil enhances the bodies function and flexibility and can provide much needed relief after a long hike or yoga class. Diffused or used in direct palm inhalation this purifying and uplifting oil has the habit of reducing stress while clearing away sadness, sluggishness or mental fatigue. Use spruce when you would like to make a clear path beyond old and stuck emotions.
Chemical Constituents of Spruce Essential Oil
Spruce Essential Oil has a significant percentage of camphene. This monoterpene is known specifically to be a powerful mucolytic so it is quite beneficial for respiratory issues such as bronchitis, asthma and coughs. Camphene is also a powerful antioxidant that also adds to its therapeutic benefits when dealing with any respiratory issues.
The a-pinene and bornyl acetate chemical components give Spruce essential oils anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, as well as the energetic & emotional support for calming & sedating – therefore it is a great addition to pain blends. Kurt Schnaubelt writes about using 5% Spruce essential oil in a blend to help with adrenal fatigue.
Benefits of Spruce Essential Oil
The health and practical application and benefits of Spruce Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties give emotional healing, improve memory power, give relaxation from mental stress, prevent muscle contractions, prevent stomach inflammation, boost energy and many more.
1. Gives Emotional Healing
Like most woody oils, Spruce is grounding and stimulating at the same time. While it has a calming effect on a nervous, hyperactive individual, it energizes someone who is feeling lethargic and melancholic. The fresh, clean scent of Spruce breeds feelings of harmony and goodwill, and helps people get in touch with their true feelings by clearing emotional blocks. The fresh, calming and restoring scent of Spruce essential oil comes from the rich composition of monoterpenes in the oil, which makes it an ideal oil to use during meditation and yoga.
2. Improves Memory Power and Concentration Level
Spruce essential oil is highly beneficial in improving memory power and concentration level of an individual. It also cures mental problems like short term memory loss.
3. Gives Relaxation from Mental Stress
Massage with spruce essential oil gives fast relief from mental stress condition and helps an individual to have a positive mentality.
4. Prevents Contraction of Muscles
Spruce essential oil is also very effective in preventing contraction of muscles which may cause chronic pain if left untreated. It is recommended to alleviate joint pain and other major as well as minor orthopedic sprain pain.
5. Prevents Stomach Inflammation
Burning of stomach or stomach inflammation is a common problem that is being faced by every 2 persons out of 10 people. However consuming diets made from spruce essential oil will deliver fast relief from stomach inflammation.
6. Removes Respiratory Problem
Spruce essential oil is a good analgesic that prevents complex respiratory therapeutic effect occurring inside your respiratory system. Spruce’s expectorant, antitussive and disinfectant properties make it helpful to support the respiratory system.
7. Cures Lungs Problem
Spruce tree oil is too much advantageous for treating problems associated with lungs. It is an amazing expectorant which makes it an ideal remedy for all sorts of lungs ailments like asthma and bronchitis too. Spruce essential oil has a high content of esters, which contributes to its balancing and antispasmodic properties. This is why it is often added to saunas, hot baths and massages. However, the most remarkable quality of Spruce essential oil is its ability to clear “blockages”, both respiratory and emotional.
8. Gives Support to Endocrine System
Spruce tree oil is too much effective in giving support and strength to adrenal glands which in turn plays a significant role in getting fast relief from stress and fatigue.
9. Prevents Body from Airborne Diseases
Spruce essential oil is also very helpful in preventing human being from different sorts of airborne diseases which may arouse due to air pollution. It safeguards your respiratory tract from effects of air pollution thereby removing breathing ailments.
10. Boosts Energy
Spruce essential oil is also very advantageous for boosting energy to the body and giving strength to the bones so as to get relief from fatigue that usually arouse due to regular load of work and mental pressure.
11. Improves Immunity
Spruce essential oil is highly recommended to consume so as to improve the functioning of immune system. Spruce essential oil will not only support your immune system but also will safeguard body cells from infections and fungal attack.
12. Regulates Metabolism
Spruce essential oil is a great alternative to olive oil which also regulates the proper functioning of metabolism. It controls all the metabolic activities of the body and prevents body from any kind of metabolic disorder.
13. Gives Better Skin Care
Spruce essential oil gives better protection to the skin and suits well to all types of skin tone. Massage with spruce essential oil delivers amazing benefits to skin by showing shine and fairness to applied area of its user.
14. Good for Hair Problems
Spruce essential oil is also very good for giving proper hair care to its user. It removes common hair problems like dandruff, hair fall and early whitening of hair to some extent. However, you must first consult your beauty expert before applying it to remove hair problems as it may cause some side effects in your body.
15. Gives Urinary Tract Support
Spruce essential oil is believed to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antispasmodic properties that can help keep the genito-urinary system healthy.
Uses of Spruce Essential Oil
A number of Spruce essential oil uses are suggested here to guide you in any practical remedy applications.
- Room deodorizer: 8 drops spruce, 4 drops cedar, 4 drops rosemary diffused or add to a room spritzer.
- To provide a fresh, relaxing atmosphere at home, add 10 of Spruce essential oil drops to your aromatherapy burner or diffuser.
- For adrenal support, mix a few drops of Black Spruce with carrier oil and massage onto your lower back.
If you’re suffering from breathing problem then consuming 1-4 drops of spruce essential oil with 1 glass of water will ease your discomfort.
- For tired muscles and sore joints, combine 5 drops of Spruce with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Massage the affected area twice a day.
- Combine 5 drops in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage across lower back and abdomen.
Precautions for Spruce Essential Oil
Spruce essential oil is considered non-toxic, a non irritant and non-sensitizing. Regardless, this is an aromatically powerful oil and its medical effects are felt in low concentrations. It is advised to always test a small amount of oil before engaging in more liberal application. If pregnant or breast-feeding, consult a physician prior to use.
Blending for Spruce Essential Oil