Kasesalu, H., Läänelaid, A. and Roht, U. 2019. Sitka spruce in Estonia. Baltic Forestry 25(2): 296-302. Review paper

   An overview of the introduction of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in Estonia. First reports of cultivation of Sitka spruce in Estonia come from 1879. In 1895, Peravalla forest area (now Järvselja) obtained a small amount of seed from Thüringen. Saplings from that seed were planted in the forest in 1904, but by 1928, all trees perished. During the 20th century, the seed of Sitka spruce from different provenance of the natural distribution area was repeatedly sown and seedlings were grown in Järvselja and some other places in Estonia, but all the cultivation attempts failed eventually. There are no Sitka spruces remained from the pre-war period in the mainland part of Estonia. In 1984, a group of saplings from the seed of 1978 was planted in Järvselja. These trees are 15 m mean height with 20.6 cm mean diameter now.

   In 1975, a small group of large Sitka spruces was found growing in a remote forest park of Suuremõisa Manor, Island of Hiiumaa. These Sitka spruces were revisited by us in spring 2018, to measure the trees and determine their age by tree rings. Nine trees out of 13 bigger spruces were cored. Age of the trees exceeded nearly 120 years. The planting time coincides with work period of Karl Ahrens, the forest officer of Suuremõisa Manor at that time.

   In spring 2018, the mean diameter at breast height (DBH) of the tree group was 62 cm and mean height ca 36 m. The biggest tree had DBH 101 cm (with 37 m height) while the maximum height for the tree group was 38 m. The Suuremõisa group of Sitka spruces on 0.02 ha is remarkable by its dense stand. If to extrapolate to one hectare, the growing stock of the stand would exceed 3×10³ m3 ha-1. The vital group of Sitka spruces at Suuremõisa have proved that this alien tree species can grow rather well on the western islands and the coastal region of Estonia. Sitka spruce can grow faster than native Norway spruce in Estonia. Future decades will show the viability of Sitka spruce cultures in the mainland of Estonia.

Keywords: introduction history, Picea sitchensis, Suuremõisa, Estonia.