Picea schrenkiana - Tien Shan Spruce

  • Posted on: 31 October 2018
This spruce is distributed from Uzbekistan to Xinjiang spanning a range of about 1000 km. For our Conifers Around the World, we included a main (habit/habitat) photo that was taken in Xinjiang in 1998. The dark purple closed cones were also documented there.
Later, in 2003 we visited Kyrgyzstan to see this plant in its western range. Then, it was a surprise to find a couple of trees that had green cones (see the reproduction of CAW page 393 below).
Our recent visit to Kyrgyzstan was more focusing on the junipers, but we had a chance to take a couple "wintery" photos of its habitat in Ala-Archa National Park. In spite the late October timing, we did not really feel winter not even at 2200 m where there was snow. When the sun came out the south slopes warmed up so pleasantly that we felt like early spring. The colors were different though, really marking the upcoming cold season (temperatures here can go down to -30°C).
Trees of Picea schrenkiana are very tall (up to 60 m) trees at some places, but here in the drier stretches of the mountains were less than 25 m. At this habitat the spruce was found to be associating with four junipers (J. communis var. saxatilis, or as treated in local floras: J. sibirica; J. pseudosabina; J. sabina; J. semiglobosa) and shrub species including Lonicera, Rosa, Salix, and Spiraea.