"The Black and the White Spruce are commonly called the Double and Single Spruce. The Double is distinguished from the Single Spruce, by the darker color of the foliage, whence its name of Black Spruce, by the greater thickness in proportion to the length of the cones, and by the looseness of the scales, which are jagged, or toothed, on the edge.
"When the tree stands by itself, in a sheltered situation favorable to its growth, the stages, or whorls, (of its branches) are regularly disposed, and, diminishing gradually in length from the ground to the top, form a conical head of strikingly regular and symmetrical proportions. To the unpractised eye this mathematical exactness of shape is beautiful; and the Spruce is a favorite tree, and is often placed in the near vicinity of houses. But to one, studious of variety and picturesque effect, the regular cone becomes stiff and monotonous, and the unvarying dark-green of the foliage has a sombre and melancholy aspect. The leaves are dark-green, two or three fifths of an inch long." - (Emerson.)
Abies alba. - The Single or White Spruce. - The same author as above describes the White Spruce "as a more slender and tapering tree of the swamps, marked by the light color of the bark and lighter green of the leaves. It rarely rises to the height of forty or fifty feet. It is perfectly straight, with numerous, somewhat irregularly scattered, branches, forming a head of the same shape as that of the Double Spruce, but less broad, and with foliage of a less gloomy color; whence its name. The leaves are of a light bluish-green, in spirals rather closely set, and equally on all sides of the shoot." We found this species growing on the top of a mountain in Maine, near Penobscot River. The whole mountain-top was interspersed with groups of the most perfect-shaped Spruces of this description that could be imagined. They were not more than twenty or thirty feet high, crowded with branches from the ground to the-top, forming perfect pyramids of evergreen, so thick that it seemed a fit retreat for any wild animal, or bird, that might seek shelter among its profuse foliage. The lower branches, reclined upon the ground, are so spreading, that the base of the pyramid appeared to be nearly the same width as the height of the tree. A few groups of this description would be magnificent decorations to the pleasure-ground. But such beautiful specimens could hardly be expected, even in this climate, so far out of its natural haunts, or latitude, where it is found in its highest perfection.
A. communis. - - Norway Spruce. - This, as we have already remarked, is finer than either the Black or White
Spruce. Loudon says: "It is of the tallest of European Firs, with a very straight, but not thick, trunk. It is a native of the north of Germany and Russia, and particularly abundant in Norway. The tree is peculiarly valuable as a nurse, from being evergreen and closely covered with branches, by which radiated heat is retained; from its conical shape and rigid stem, by which it does not suffocate or whip the adjoining trees; from its being valuable at whatever age it is thinned out; and from its being an excellent shelter for the most valuable game. It is also an excellent hedge plant or shelter." Mr. Downing, in speaking of it, says : "In fact, it is so useful and valuable a tree, that it is destined to become much more popular still. So hardy, that it is used as a nurse plant, to break off the wind in exposed sites, and shelter more tender trees in young plantations; so readily adapting itself to any site, that it thrives upon all soils, from light sand and dry gravel, to deep, moist loam or clay; so accommodating in its habits, that it will grow under the shade of other trees, or in the most exposed positions. There is no planter of new places, or improver of old ones, who will not find it necessary to call it in for his assistance. Then, again, the variety of purposes for which the trees may be used, is so indefinite. Certainly there are few trees more strikingly picturesque than a fine Norway Spruce, forty or fifty years old, towering up from a base of thick branches, which droop and fall to the very lawn, and hang off in those depending curves, which make it such a favorite with the artist."
"Abies pulcherrima of Virgil. - The European Silver Fir. - Similar and superior to the Balsam Fir, and which grows to the height of one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet, and even more; grows with great vigor in our gardens and nurseries, and wherever else it has been tried. It is an inhabitant of the mountains of the South of Europe.
"But still more remarkable and desirable trees of this genus are found on the western side of the continent. Such is the tree called Douglass' Spruce Fir, Abies Douglassii, from the name of the person who introduced it into England. In its native forests it varies from one hundred to two hundred and eighty feet in height; and a stump is mentioned as still found on the Columbia River, which measures forty-eight feet in circumference at three feet from the ground, exclusive of its very thick bark." - (Emerson.)