Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Norway Spruce - Picea abies

The Norway Spruce - Picea abies is a small to mid sized evergreen that reaches heights of less then 80 feet tall. The large downward hanging cones and drooping branches make this tree easy to identify. Main branches of the Norway Spruce curve upwards like outstretched arms with secondary branches hanging down like a leather fringe. Native to Europe the Norway Spruce has been planted extensively since colonial times and is considered naturalized throughout the Eastern United States. 

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

The bark of the Norway Spruce is is red-brown to ash gray, cracked in scaly plates that occasionally peel in thin curls. The leaves are in the form of needles from 1/2 to 1 inch long, four sided, sharply pointed, dull green in color and lustrous. Each needle grows from a short stem with a peg like base. The seeds are winged, borne in cones varying in size from 4-6 inches long. Even after releasing the seeds, cones often remain hanging on the tree for a long time.

Image Citation: Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary,

Norway Spruce is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7 and is a relatively fast grower gaining 12-24 inches annually. This tree prefers full sun and should be planted in a location that allows 6-8 hours of full unfiltered light per day. The Norway spruce grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and/or clay soil types. Norway Spruce support a wide variety of wildlife, they provide winter cover for deer and small game including grouse, hare and woodcock. Song birds, fur bearers, Hawks and Owls also frequent these types of tree for cover, and roosting habitat.  It is widely planted as an ornamental, specimen or Christmas tree.

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