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Spruce tips growing on a tree

5 Reasons To Eat Spruce Tips & 8 Ways To Use Them

I went for a walk in the park yesterday and picked a pocketful (I did not have anything else to put them into) of spruce tips. “Why on earth?” some might ask. They taste so good and are packed with vitamin C!

When I finished picking the tips I felt I had to thank the tree, and I did. This was the best walk I’ve had in months!

I surprised my 4-year-old with a plate full of these beautifully green tips when he got home from kindergarten. Needless to say, he was at the table right away munching the tips and making a wry face when the taste got too sour.

What are spruce tips? 

The spruce buds are those tips of the spruce branches that emerge in spring. They have the prettiest green colour I have ever seen.

Why should you eat spruce tips?

  1. Spruce needles are exceptionally high in Vitamin C – frozen or dried spruce tips are good source of vitamin C during wintertime.
  2. They also contain carotenoids.
  3. Spruce buds are rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
  4. Spruce needles have long been used by indigenous tribes for relieving coughs and sore throats.
  5. They also contain plenty of chlorophyll, which helps growing and healing tissues, controlling cravings, as well as transporting oxygen to cells. It also neutralizes free radicals, keeps blood sugar balanced, accelerates wound healing and bonds poisonous metals present in your body.

What to do with spruce tips and needles?

  1. I like to keep it simple and just eat them as they are or
  2. Add to smoothies and salads. For example add them to Kiwi-Avocado Smoothie
  3. Use dried tips for tea, which soothes throat and upper respiratory ailments.
  4. Use spruce needles as rosemary.
  5. Add chopped spruce tips to drinking water and let it sit for an hour or so – water absorbs all the goodies from the tips.
  6. Season your soups, pastas, stews, curries etc. with chopped spruce tips. It is also a great way to enhance mineral absorption from grains and legumes. Recipe ideas: artichoke-bean stew, tortilla bowls.
  7. Prepare a vegan oil-free pesto with spruce tips, pine nuts, basil, and nutritional yeast.
  8. Should you require something fancier, try out sautéed mushrooms with spruce tips and chives.

Some people like to prepare spruce tip syrup. However, I would not recommend it as syrup calls for tons of sugar, which just kills the benefits of those great vitamin-rich tips.

How to Pick Spruce Tips? 

Here’s how it is advised to pick spruce tips:

  1. The 100 metre rule.

    Choose a spot at least 100 metres from any roadway.

  2. How much from one tree.

    It is advised not to pick too many from one tree or even from one branch. Every tip that’s picked is pruning the tree, so that it won’t grow back.

  3. From which branches to pick.

    Focus on the tips that would be shaded anyway, i.e. the tips interior to the tree and close to the ground. If you have a spruce tree in your garden that needs pruning, you’re free to pick all the tips from those branches [source video]

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Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. As a Global Healing affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. For every purchase made from the links in this post, you’ll be able to support my work. So you can look after your health, and contribute to my mission at the same time. Thank you!

SourcesA. Kizhedath, Suneetha V, Journal of Pharmacy Research; W. Bowles, Total Health; Nutrimed

5 spruce tips benefits, 8 ways to use spruce tips, how to pick spruce tips.


  1. any spruce tree or a specific kind??

  2. can you pick from other confiferous trees such as hemlock or fir or douglas fir??

    • Nele Liivlaid

      Hi Leah!

      Any fir, spruce, pine or hemlock tips can be picked and eaten. Enjoy!

      • Watch out not to confuse with Yue trees, they’re similar looking if you aren’t used to seeing them, they have red berries, and every part of them is deadly toxic except for the flesh on the berries, but that shouldn’t be eaten due to the risk of ingesting seeds.

        • Nele Liivlaid

          Fortunately yew trees are very different from spruce — in my opinion impossible to confuse 🙂 But thanks for the caution!

      • Miriam Rubinoff

        Wait… hemlock is edible? I mean, I know it is. Just didn’t know there was anyone who had consumed it and lived to tell about it!

  3. I love this article, because everyone knows, moomins eat spruce needles their tummies full, before hibernating for the winter. I am planning to make a fermented drink with these beauties. Thanks Nele.

  4. Jane Brooks

    I can’t understand why I was raised in a evergreen forest and never heard they are nutritious.

    • Nele Liivlaid

      I also discovered their benefits only a few years ago and me too I was basically raised next to spruces 🙂 However, it’s never too late to do good things or eat good food!

  5. Are there any cautions? Do you recommend for it for use in small children?

  6. Carolyn Martin

    4. should be sore, not sour…love the article; did not know, and now will share ..

  7. I munched a few spruce tips and found the initial taste okay, but there was a bitter after taste that irritated my throat. They were picked from a small, white spruce and were light green, fresh, and tender. Are they an acquired taste or did I just get a bad sample maybe?

  8. I’ve heard spruce tips also raise the body’s testosterone levels, which may be desirable or not.

  9. Great article! Just what I was looking for 🙂 and cute kid!

  10. Melissa Chlupach

    Which source did you get the nutrition information from? I’m trying to find nutrition facts (i.e., numbers) for spruce tips, but am coming up short.

  11. Hi Nele,
    I also have never heard of this before and I’m very much interested in this. Especially the ice cream recipe I found where can i buy these I looked on Amazon could not find them anywhere can you share a link of where I can purchase these? Thank you so much. Mark

    • Nele Liivlaid

      Hi Mark,

      You can’t buy spruce tips on amazon! I’m afraid you’re going to need to wait until spring and pick them yourself 🙂

      All the best!

  12. Thanks for these great tips Nele.
    I’m going out to pick some today. Love your recepie ideas.
    I’m going to try them on grilled salmon and halibut.
    Greg in Alaska

  13. Sandra Turnsek

    They were a little late this year in Ontario, but I picked a bunch today from my tree in the front yard and sprinkled them on my smashed potatoes. What is the safest way to preserve them? Spread them on a sheet to freeze and then bag, or dry them in a low oven to use like rosemary? I tried freezing last year’s batch, but they looked a little brown.

    • Nele Liivlaid

      Hi! Just picked some myself this morning 🙂 I freeze them as they are and they don’t turn brown. For a few days it’s also ok to keep them refrigerated.

  14. Martina Sutherland

    Hoe do I dry them?

    • Nele Liivlaid

      Hi! Why do you need to dry them?
      I store them in freezer as they are. Should you still wish to dehydrate them, lay them out on a tray and simply let them dry.

      All the best!

  15. I have often made either spruce or pine needle tea while on extended hiking/wilderness trips. For the tea you do not need the spring “tips”…any handful of the green needles will suffice.

  16. Thank you, Nele, For this awesome article! I have used spruce tips in homebrewing and nibbled on them when hiking, but not in a purposeful, healing way yet! Quick tip: the best time to harvest spruce tips is in the early spring, as soon as the tree’s sap starts flowing again… that way, you are ensured to get all the nutrients and the most flavorful harvest! I also know that Hawthorne trees (especially the berries) are medicinally useful and have used them in tinctures I have made. I recently ran across an awesome book that is now a propitious addition to my herbal bookshelf; The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies”, by Claude Davis & Dr. Nicole Apelian. I watched the video Dr. Apelian did about the book and was hooked! I even bought three copies to give away as Christmas/Solstice gifts!
    Live with Joy & Health!
    -Justin Baker

  17. Hi great article! Can spruce pollen be consumed in the same manner as pine pollen? Thanks in advance.

  18. Penny Kagigebi

    Hi – Love this article. Thank you!

    Please educate your readers about sustainable harvesting. Improperly harvesting conifer tips can damage trees.

    The YouTube link below is a good primer for harvesting spruce tips and includes a full written transcript.

    “Every tip that’s picked is pruning the tree. That tip will not grow back. So don’t pick too many spruce tips from one branch.”


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  21. Do you know if spruce tips contain any sugar?

    • Hi! I don’t know the exact macros, but they most probably contain carbohydrates, which in turn contain sugars. However, it’s naturally occurring sugars that can’t be compared with manmade refined sugar.

  22. I have a book, Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada. In the section under the Pine Family, Warning: it advises not to eat the needles and to drink Pine Teas in moderation, but doesn’t explain what is the danger of eating them. Does anyone have an answer to this? Or is the warning exaggerated perhaps?

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