The Black Hills spruce adopted by the South Dakota Legislature is considered a regional variety of white spruce (Picea glauca) found only in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This Black Hills distinction is not universally accepted however.
According to the S.D. Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry:
Black Hills spruce is a variety, or subspecies, of the widely distributed white spruce. White spruce has bluish-green foliage while the Black Hills spruce has a typically denser and a bright bluish-green foliage. Black Hills spruce is also a slower growing species than white spruce. While Black Hills spruce has been given the variety distinction, it is now considered to be a geographical variety, rather than a botanical variety.
The Huronite and The Daily Plainsman reported that the Black hills spruce did not achieve official status without controversy. Proponents of the cottonwood put up a vigorous fight claiming that the cottonwood was more widely distributed throughout the state and had provided multiple benefit to early pioneers. They failed to sway the South Dakota Legislature in the end.
The following information was excerpted from the South Dakota Codified Laws , title 1, chapter 1-6, section 1-6-11.
TITLE 1 STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT
CHAPTER 1-6 STATE EMBLEMS
1-6-11. State tree.
1-6-11. State tree. The Black Hills Spruce, Picea glauca densata, being a tree native to the State of South Dakota and by its name definitely designating this state as its own and being a tree of noble attributes, is hereby named to be the state tree of South Dakota.
Source: SL 1947, ch 266; SDC Supp 1960, § 55.0112.
Alseth, Ida. "Arbor Day Finds Many Kingsbury Farmers Planning Tree Plantings." <çite>The Huronite and The Daily Plainsman [Huron] 30 Apr. 1948: 3. Print.
Herman, D.E., et al. North Dakota Tree Handbook. Bismarck: USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, 1996. Print.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.
The State of South Dakota. South Dakota Codified Laws. Pierre: State of South Dakota. Web. 12 Jul 2011. <http://legis.state.sd.us/statutes/TitleList.aspx>.
State Tree: Black Hills Spruce: South Dakota Department of Transportation: Kid's page.
Black Hills Spruce Picea glauca var. densata: Black Hills Spruce fact sheet from the S.D. Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry, Pierre, SD.
Black Hills Spruce: North Dakota Tree Handbook.
North Dakota Tree Handbook: North Dakota State University - North Dakota Forest Service.
Black Hills Spruce Picea glauca 'Densata': Monrovia Horticultural Craftsmen.
CalPhotos Photo Database: Photographs of Picea glauca from CalPhotos, a project of the Biodiversity Sciences Technology group (BSCIT), part of the Berkeley Natural History Museums at UC, Berkley.
White spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss: Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech.
White spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss: Landowner Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech.
Plant Profile for Picea glauca (Moench) Voss (white spruce): USDA, NRCS. 2011. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 24 July 2011). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Picea glauca (Moench) Voss (White Spruce): United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service: Agriculture Handbook 654: Silvics of North America.
Picea glauca var. densata Bailey: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on spiders, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
State trees: Complete list of official state trees from NETSTATE.COM.
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official South Dakota state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.
South Dakota Trees & Wildflowers, by James Kavanagh. Folding pamphlet. Publisher: Waterford Press; First Edition (October 1, 2008)
The state flower, the pasqueflower, is one of thousands of species of plants growing in the diverse ecosystems found throughout South Dakota. This beautifully illustrated guide highlights over 140 familiar and unique species of trees, shrubs and wildflowers and also includes a map featuring prominent botanical sanctuaries. Laminated for durability, this lightweight, pocket-sized folding guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use by visitors and residents alike.