Pine familiy (Pinaceae)
The rarest of all spruces
Many species of spruce look very similar to one another and it is difficult to identify an individual with certainty. Sometimes an individual turns out to belong to, what has been considered for many years to be, a rare species. This was the case with one of the oldest and tallest trees in the Blijdenstein Pinetum in Hilversum. A spruce that went through life for years under the name of Picea wilsonii proved to be Picea maximowiczii. This species differs from P. wilsonii mainly by the branches - underneath they are brown and not whitish.
Maximowicz’s spruce originates from Japan and has become very rare in the wild. No large specimens of this tree occur today in the wild because there has been so much felling in its area of natural distribution. It is also rare in cultivation: across Europe there are only five other individuals. The specimen in Hilversum bears plenty of cones, also on its lower branches.Read more.... »
Maximowicz's spruce is generally a relatively short, bush-like tree from Japan that can reach heights of 30 m. In Japan it is often planted in gardens especially around Buddhist temples. Its compact appearance and slow growth makes it idea as a bonsai although the species itself is not very common. There are two varieties, var. maximowiczii and var. senanensis (there is still discussion concerning this split). Although the senanensis variety is less abundant it is this variety that has ended up being grown in (botanic) gardens and arboreta across Europe and America. The only six individuals in Europe are growing in the Blijdenstein Pinetum near Hilversum. Although the wood is not valuable, in the wild no large trees remain because of major tree felling in its native habitat.
Ecology and habitat
The rare Maximowicz's spruce is endemic to Honshu, the largest island in Japan. Native populations of both varieties are spread across the Yatsugatake Mountains and on Fuji growing on volcanic podsols at altitudes of between 1100 and 2000 m. The climate is damp with cool summers and cold winters. It grows solely in small, scattered groups (usually with Juniperus rigida) especially across open, grassland-like terrain.
Over exploitation of the original forest has damaged this species significantly. The scattered population of Picea maximowiczii is now restricted to reserves. Its foremost threat is deforestation of ancient woodland and replacement with commercial plantations. A large proportion of the current habitats are in poor condition and regeneration of Picea maximowiczii is insufficient.« Description
Present in:Pinetum Blijdenstein
Crown jewel in the Blijdenstein Pinetum.
Part of the Dutch National Conifer Collection.
Fragrant; contains resin.
Wood is used as timber.
One of the rarest trees on earth, both in the wild and in cultivation.
One of the oldest trees in the Blijdenstein Pinetum, planted by the founder, B. W. Blijdenstein.
|Description:||Conifer, up to 30 m tall and 100 cm in diameter.|
|Habitat:||Temperate conifer forests.|
|Year cycle:||Perennial (polycarpic evergreen)|
|Hardiness:||5 - 14 f (hardy - cold winter)|
|Flowering period:||Maart - mei|
|Flower color:||Not applicable|
|Fruiting period:||Mei - september|