Washington's Coast
Washington State Department of Ecology

BEACHES
ANIMALS
 
PLANTS
spruce
spartina
beachgrass
dune plants
Sitka spruce clinging to Cape Elizabeth, on Washington's central coast.
Forests in the fog
Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, is a large conifer often found near the ocean. It clings to cliffs, perches on sea stacks, and grows in moist sand along beaches and rivers. Also called tideland spruce, the Sitka spruce thrives in the wet coastal fog belt. Fog condenses on spruce needles, increasing precipitation.
Sitka spruce seed cone
Needles absorb ocean minerals
A quick and easy way to identify Sitka spruce: grab a branch. Needles stick out in all directions and hurt. Unlike other conifers, Sitka spruce needles can take in minerals such as calcium and phosphorus from ocean spray.
Sitka spruce needles
Sitka spruce, among the world's largest trees, grow in a 2,100 mile strip along the Pacific coast.
The largest Sitka spruce on the Pacific coast grow in Washington's glacial valleys such as the Queets, Hoh, and Quinalt. In Olympic National Park, Sitka spruce can tower over 300 feet tall. Sitka spruce grows quickly in these temperate zone rain forests -- 175 feet in 100 years.
Sitka Spruce, Bottle Beach, Grays Harbor Storms, size, and shape
Many oceanside Sitka spruce have been topped by winter cyclones. Because Sitka spruce have shallow roots, violent coastal storms can blow down entire stands. Some trees near the ocean develop huge burls up to 7 feet wide. The cause of this growth is unknown.

Sitka Spruce, U.S.D.A Plants Database. Sitka spruce fact sheet. Includes pictures of cones, seeds, bark and branches. 

Sitka Spruce rain forest. A virtual panorama of a Sitka spruce rainforest.

Quinault rain forest. Includes information on plant and animal life.


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