A large evergreen tree with a central trunk and dense, ascending, lateral branches from the ground up that form a broad pyramidal to conical crown. It varies from the typical white spruce in its denser, more compact habit and slower growth rate. It has a shallow, fiberous, wide spreading root system. The thin bark is ashy gray or brown, shallowly fissured and separated into thin flaky scales. The needles are individually attached, and foliage color varies from deep green to blue green. The brown cylindrical cones appear in late July and may persist on the tree into January. It is better adapted than the white spruce. It grows best in acidic, moist loams with full sun, but adapts to a variety of conditions including shade, drought, hot and cold. It is flood intolerant and sensitive to soil compaction.