Arctic wildfires threatening North America’s black spruce trees

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The black spruce is a common species in North American boreal forests and it needs wildfires to survive, but the blazes are now so frequent that the spruces are struggling Environment 25 October 2021 By Chen Ly A boreal forest with black spruce and mixed hardwood trees in Algonquin Provincial Park, CanadaOrchidpoet/Getty Images For millennia,…

Arctic wildfires threatening North America’s black spruce trees
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The black spruce is a common species in North American boreal forests and it needs wildfires to survive, but the blazes are now so frequent that the spruces are struggling



Environment



25 October 2021

By Chen Ly

Boreal forest with black spruce

A boreal forest with black spruce and mixed hardwood trees in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada

Orchidpoet/Getty Images

For millennia, black spruces (Picea mariana) have been a common presence across Arctic forests in North America, but they are now being threatened by more frequent and severe wildfires.

Like many other trees in these forests, the spruce – an evergreen conifer – depends on fire for regeneration. As fire moves across the landscape, the trees’ cones, which are covered in a waxy coat, heat up and slowly open to release their seeds onto the new seedbed.

But …

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