Norway Spruce – Picea Abies

Tree of the Week

28th November 2019 | Info

Common name: Norway Spruce

Scientific name: Picea abies

Introduction: Norway Spruces are a non-UK native evergreen species that are commonly used in the festive season as Christmas trees. They are fast-growing trees and can have a life-span of 1000+ years. They originate from Scandinavia and mountainous ranges in Europe.


Leaves:  Needle-like leaves that have a dark green and shiny upper side and a blue and white striped underside. They cover the upper side of branches and have a strong, sweet smell.

Buds: Orange-brown and ovoid. 

Bark: Young trees have a copper-grey coloured bark with a rough texture despite looking smooth. As they mature, this bark then turns to a dark browny-purple and develops fissures.

Form: Tall-trunked trees that typically have a pyramidal shape and ‘pointed’ crown. When young, they are quite narrow, but as they mature, they begin to broaden.


Norway Spruce are monoecious. Their female flowers are red and oval-shaped and typically grow on the upper crown of the tree. Male flowers form in clusters of stamens and are also red in colour but turn to yellow once pollinated. Female flowers are wind-pollinated, turning green and enlarged. Once this happens, these female flowers then further develop into red-brown cones. The cones of a Norway spruce are relatively long and have diamond-shaped scales. The seeds of a Norway Spruce are released in spring.

Growth Habit:

Fast growth rate and can reach up to 40+metres.

Interesting Facts:

Norway Spruces became popular in the Victorian period after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introduced the ideas of having a tree in our homes at Christmas. Addition, Oslo (the capital of Norway) have been gifting the City of London (Trafalgar Square), Edinburgh and Washington D.C. with a Norway Spruce Christmas tree since 1947 as a thank you for assisting them during the Second World War.

Ecological Importance:

Norway spruces provided a nice habitat for beetles, weevils and hoverflies. They also make good roosting trees for hawks and owls.

Properties of Norway Spruce Wood and its Uses:

The wood of a Norway Spruce is a pale-cream colour and is strong. For many years it has been used for flooring, furniture and also to make paper.

Styling of Norway Spruce/Where to Find Them:

Often found in forests. They are commonly grown commercially for decorative Christmas trees.

Associated Pests and Diseases:

Can be affected by green spruce aphids.


Pruning and Pruning Qualities: Norway Spruces tend to require little to no pruning as they are low-maintenance trees. However, sometimes you may need to prune a Norway Spruce for gentle maintenance and to help maintain the tree’s attractive shape. Like most trees, if you spot any dead, diseased or dying branches, then you can also remove these as soon as you spot them. The way you should prune a Norway Spruce (if necessary) will typically depend on the age of the tree and should be carried out in late winter to early spring. The general rule of thumb is as follows; young trees respond well to having central branch growth being cut back as this encourages faster growth rate and also helps them to become more bushier as they mature. Norway Spruces between the ages of 6-7 are typically favoured for the Christmas Trees that enter our homes in the festive season. It is ideal at this age to prune a couple of the bottom layers of the tree to reveal a foot of the trunk. More mature Norway Spruces may tend to be broader and therefore may cause obstruction. If this occurs, then you should prune the tree sufficiently, removing full branches as otherwise, needles may turn brown and ‘die-off’. 

Growth Rate after Pruning: Pruning Norway Spruces when young can help to encourage faster growth rates.

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