White spruce (Picea glauca), also known Canadian spruce, is common in the northern United States, as well as throughout most of Canada (USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 6). It is often harvested for its lumber and pulp and grows in a variety of conditions, including in sunny and shady locations and in a diversity of soil conditions. To distinguish white spruce from other spruces and evergreens, you must look at its particular characteristics.
Search in an area where white spruce trees tend to grow. They often grow in forests with other trees, such as subalpine fir, trembling aspen, yellow and white birches, lodgepole and red pines and willow trees.
Look at the shape and size. White spruce trees have a uniform conical shape and grow to be about 60 feet high, but can reach up to 100 feet in optimum conditions. They have a single trunk with bottom branches that droop to the ground; however, in areas where there is a lack of light, the bottom branches can drop off.
Examine the leaves. The leaves are four sided and grow on all sides of the tree's twigs and are stiff, bluish green and less than one inch long. They are pointy, but not sharp to the touch.
Inspect the bark. The bark is grayish brown and scaly. If you peel away the outer layer, the inner bark is silver-white.
Observe the cones. The cones are small, only about 2 inches long, and are thin when the scales are still closed. They mature and open in the late summer or early fall when the brown scales form right angles with the cone. The cones drop in the late fall or early winter.