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 half an inch to one 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, four to six inches long, purplish-green and change 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 three to four 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 large 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 three to six feet high and wide. It has stiff, prickly, green to bluish-green, half 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 three to four feet high and four to five 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 six 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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