Picea smithiana Seeds
Picea smithiana (Pinaceae) is an evergreen tree. The plant produces cones which bear seeds which are winged and dark brown in colour. It is popularly known by its synonyms including, Abies smithiana and Pinus smithiana. It is commonly known as Himalayan spruce or Western Himalayan spruce and Morinda spruce. Locally it is known as “Kachal”. It grows at an altitude in the range of 2400-3600 m. The plant occurs in forests together with blue pine, deodar cedar and pindrow fir.
Picea smithiana Overview
Picea smithiana reaches a height of 40-55 m and diameter up to 1-2m in their original habitat. It has a conical crown that has level branches which consists of pendulous branchlets. The stem or shoots are glabrous and pale buff brown in colour. The leaves are needle-like up to 3-5 cm long and rhombic in cross-section. The plant is monoecious. Male cones are axillary, catkin-shape, greenish yellow in colour and elongated after shedding pollen grains. Female cones are solitary and terminal. These cones are green when young but become buff-brown on maturing. These cones are dark brown and about 10-15 cm long and 2-5 cm wide. The scales of cones are stiff, smooth and round in shape.
Picea smithiana cones bear seeds which are dark brown in colour, ovoid in shape and 4-5 mm in length. These seeds bears an obliquely spathulate 10-15 mm long wing. It is grown as ornamental tree in gardens and parks. It is also grown for timber and paper production purposes in small extent.
Propagation of Picea smithiana through Seeds
Picea smithiana can be cultivated through seeds. The seeds require stratification which enhance germination. Fresh seeds are sown into a cold frame in autumn. Stored seeds can also be used for propagation but fresh seeds are more better to sown. The pots containing soil mixture and seed are placed in light shade. The pots are kept in greenhouse or cold frame for their first winters. The seedlings are transfer to their permanent position when they become enough to handle. They are only transplanted during early summers. The plant be also propagated through cuttings of mature terminal shoots about 5-10 cm long in a cold frame.
How to take care of Picea smithiana Seedlings
Picea smithiana prefers to grow in drier areas and needs a deep moist soil. It tolerates poor peaty soil. It prefers a pH of soil within the range of 4-6. The seedlings are frost sensitive until they become 1.5 m tall. They should be placed in shelter away from direct sunlight. They are generally slow growing plants.
Uses of Picea smithiana
Young male cones of Picea smithiana are used as a flavouring agent both in cooked or raw form. Similarly, young female cones are used to cook as vegetable and has sweet taste. Inner bark of plant is ground into powder and used to add in soups and for making bread. A refreshing tea is made from young shoots which is rich in vitamin C. The bark is highly water resistant and used to make roofs. Small quantity of resins are obtained from bark and wood. The wood is used for construction purposes and in pulp industry to make paper. Wood has a wide range of applications in interior house decoration, household purposes, aircraft making and fuel production such as charcoal.