Varnish: Plants that can be used as a varnish without any special treatment. Does not include varnishes made from oils, etc

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Varnish: Plants that can be used as a varnish without any special treatment. Does not include varnishes made from oils, etc

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 10:46

Picea abies -

Norway Spruce

Author(L.)H.Karst.Botanical references11, 200
SynonymsAbies picea - Mill.

Picea excelsa - (Lam.)Link.

Pinus abies - L.

Known HazardsNone known
RangeN. and C. Europe.
HabitatNot known
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple icon 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man
icon of decid tree
An evergreen Tree growing to 30m by 10m at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 4 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in
flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from October to November.
The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or
female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are
pollinated by Wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.
The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil.
It cannot grow in the shade.
It requires moist or wet soil.
The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It cannot tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Woodland Garden; Canopy; Ground Cover; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers; Inner bark; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Young male catkins - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring[172].
Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is
sweet and syrupy[172].
Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickener in
soups etc or added to cereals when making bread[172]. An emergency
food, used when all else fails.
Seed - raw. Rich in oil and with a pleasant slightly resinous flavour,
but too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are
A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot
tips[172]. These tips are also used in making spruce beer[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibiotic; Antiseptic; Balsamic; Expectorant; Poultice; Sedative.

The buds, leaves and resin are antibiotic, antiseptic, balsamic,
expectorant, sedative[7].
A pitch, or resin, obtained from the trunk is rubefacient and
stimulant[240]. It is used externally in plasters etc for its healing
and antiseptic properties[7]. A poultice of the sap or gum has been
used in the treatment of boil and abscess pain[257].

Other Uses

Adhesive; Essential; Ground cover; Pitch; Shelterbelt; Tannin; Varnish; Wood.

The tree is a source of pitch (Burgundy pitch) and turpentine (Jura
turpentine)[1, 7, 46, 64]. Burgundy pitch is used as a varnish and in
medicinal plasters[57]. It is a strong adhesive[61, 64]. The turpentine
is a waterproofer and wood preservative. They are obtained by incisions
in the trunk, the resin is scraped out some months later[64].
An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery[46, 61].
The seed contains 30% of a fatty oil, this is used in the production of
a varnish[74].
The bark contains some tannin[171]. Both the bark and bark extract have
been widely used in Europe as a source of tannin, the bark containing
up to 13% tannin[223]. Yields of tannin have been doubled by heating or
steaming the bark as soon as possible after the tree has been
A fairly wind resistant tree and fast growing, it can be planted in
shelterbelts to provide protection from the wind[200].
The dwarf cultivar 'Inversa' can be grown as a ground cover plant in a
sunny position[188]. The cultivars 'Reflexa' and 'Procumbens' can also
be used[208]. They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way[208].
Wood - medium hard, fairly elastic, durable under water, light in
weight and colour. Used for general carpentry, joinery, musical
instruments etc. Valued for its use in the pulp industry to make
paper[1, 11, 13, 46, 66].

Scented Plants

Leaves: Crushed
The bruised leaves emit a delicious musky smell[245].

Cultivation details

Likes abundant moisture at the roots, if grown in drier areas it must
be given a deep moist soil[11]. Succeeds in most soils including those
that are wet cold and shallow, but it is not very wind-firm in shallow
soils[1]. Intolerant of chalky or poor acid soils[11]. Tolerates poor
peaty soils[200]. Prefers a pH between 4 to 6[200]. Dislikes shade[200]
according to one report whilst another says that it is moderately shade
tolerant[125]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[11]. Resists wind
exposure to some degree and is tolerant of saline winds[200].
A very cold-hardy tree when fully dormant, though the young shoots are
subject to injury by late frosts[1], though less so than P.
A fast growing tree, it is widely planted in cool temperate zones for
its wood[200]. Young trees often grow 1 metre or more a year and can
sustain an average of 60cm for at least the first 60 years though
growth tails off as they grow older[185]. Probably not that long-lived
in Britain, about 200 years seems the absolute maximum[185]. In some
upland areas, especially over granitic or other base-poor soils, growth
rate and health have been seriously affected by aluminium poisoning
induced by 'acid rain' pollution[200]. There are many named varieties,
almost all of them dwarf forms[200].
A food plant for many caterpillars[30].
A very aggressive tree, it is hostile to other trees[18]. Susceptible
to attacks by bark beetles so it should be kept away from more valuable
trees. A biological control is being introduced (1983)[125].
This species is susceptible to honey fungus[81].
Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are
quite small, between 30 and 90cm. Larger trees will check badly and
hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects
root development and wind resistance[200].
Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows
poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this
genus[200]. The seed is shed in spring[1], the cones release their seed
whilst they are still on the tree[81].
The bruised leaves emit a delicious musky smell[245].


Seed - stratification will probably improve germination so sow fresh
seed in the autumn in a cold frame if possible[80]. Sow stored seed as
early in the year as possible in a cold frame[78]. A position in light
shade is probably best[78]. Seed should not be allowed to dry out and
should be stored in a cool place[80]. Prick out the seedlings into
individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on
in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. They can be
planted out into their permanent positions in early summer of the
following year, or be placed in an outdoor nursery bed for a year or so
to increase in size. They might need protection from spring frosts.
Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, August in a frame.
Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring[78].
Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 - 10cm long, September/October in
a cold frame. Takes 12 months[78].
Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but


A dwarf weeping form[200], it can be grown as a ground cover plant
in a sunny position[188]. Plants are best spaced about 1 metre apart
each way[208].
A low, flat-topped shrub to about 75cm tall and much wider[11], it
can be grown as a ground cover plant in a sunny position[208]. Plants
are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way[208].
A pendulous variety that does not develop a leader and eventually
covers a wide area with its trailing branches[11], it can be grown as a
ground cover plant in a sunny position[208]. Plants are best spaced
about 1 metre apart each way[208]

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