Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

By Anjel Chavez


Norway spruce (Picea abies) is a shaggy-looking evergreen conifer. Its drooping needles make it very distinct compared to other spruces and firs. With a name like Picea abies, it can be confusing to understand why is it called spruce when it’s scientific name has abies, which is the genus for firs. Norway spruce is a true spruce but has fir-like characteristics and similarities!  It’s a tall tree, ranging anywhere from 50 to 80 feet. The long, cylindrical cones hang from the branches almost like ornaments, making the tree festive for the winter holidays. The 4-sided needles on the tree can be a dark green color and sharp-pointed to the touch. 


Norway spruce is a popular Christmas tree variety because of its very pronounced conical shape as a young tree. It is a nonnative species, but it has become a popular urban tree due to its ability to tolerate moderate salt spray and both acidic and alkaline soils. This tree also loves the sun and even some shade, which makes this a great urban conifer species to be planted in parks. You can find Norway spruce from Maine, all the way over to Washington and Oregon, and down south as far as New Mexico. In its native range, it’s not just found only in Norway. It actually was growing in the Black Forest in Eurasia before finally making its way to grow in Norway in 500 BC! Now you can find it at high altitudes in north and central Europe.



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Norway spruce tree on the tree guide at arborday. Org. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from

Picea abies—Plant finder. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from