Content Detail

Norway spruce is a large, pyramidal tree with long, cylindrical cones that hang like ornaments from the weeping branches against the dark green foliage. This sun-loving, 40 to 60 foot high tree is often used as windbreaks, screens, or hedges in large-scale landscapes.

  • Family (English) Pine
  • Family (botanic) Pinaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-60 feet
  • Mature width 25-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, Pink
  • Shape or form Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Birds, Moths, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and form:

Norway spruce is a large, 40 to 60 foot high pyramidal tree with weeping branches.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to northern and central Europe.

Bark color and texture:

The bark of a young tree is thin and thickens into gray-brown flaky scales as the tree matures.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color:

The four-sided smooth needles with a pointed tip are 1/2 to 1 inch long. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small male flowers are pinkish-red and clustered along the stems while the female flowers are reddish-pink and upright on the tips of the branches. After pollination, the flower turns green and hangs downward as the cone ripen.

Cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Cones are cylindrical, 4 to 6 inches long and purplish-green, changing to light brown as they ripen.

Plant care:

Norway spruce grows best planted in full sun and does poorly planted in the shade. The very shallow, spreading root system benefits from a 3 to 4 inch layer of organic mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture. Because of its potential size, Norway spruce is not a tree for smaller yards. It is often used as a windbreak, screen, or hedge in large-scale landscapes.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

It is susceptible to Cytospora canker and Rhizosphaera needle cast. Bagworms and spider mites can also be problems.

Acrocona Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Acrocona’):

This cultivar has a broad-spreading pyramidal form and may top out at 20 feet high. Bright red female cones are produced at the ends of the branches.

Bird’s Nest Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’ ):

This dwarf cultivar grows only 3 to 6 feet high and wide. It has stiff, prickly, green to bluish-green, 1/2 inch needles and a neat, dense, compact shape. Outward spreading branches create a slight depression in the center of this flat-topped shrub, hence the name, “bird’s nest.” Cones are seldom produced.

Dwarf Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’ ):

This dwarf cultivar grows 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide. This form is more rounded than that of Bird’s Nest Spruce.

Cupressina Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’):

A narrow cultivar growing 25 to 30 feet high and 6 feet wide. It is more tolerant of heavy snow loads.

Weeping Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Pendula’ ):

A 12 to 15 foot high and wide, upright, narrow tree with a weeping habit. It is often used as a specimen plant in a mixed border.


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