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Tall and slender, with graceful upswept branches, the Serbian spruce is an elegant evergreen tree as a specimen in the landscape. It has glossy, dark green needles with slender streaks of white, and distinctive purple cones. It is a threatened species in its native Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, where it has only a few patches of habitat left, but is an adaptable, drought tolerant tree in the Midwest.

  • 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 Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 50-60 feet
  • Mature width 20-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Narrow, Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Intolerant of pollution
  • Wildlife Browsers, Nesting birds, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Serbian spruce is native to Southeastern Europe, Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.

Bark color and texture:

Mature trees have dark brown bark, with thin, peeling platelets.

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

Dark green needles are 1/2 to 1 inch long, with four distinct white bands. Needles tend to point forward and overlap. Branches are pendulous and cascading.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Mature cones hang from the tips of the branches, Only 1 1/2  to 2 inches long, they start out purple, turning to a reddish brown at maturity.

Plant care:

Best in moist, well-drained, organic soils, this tree is pH adaptable. One of the more adaptable spruce to urban environments. Grows best when sheltered from strong winds.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Aphids and borers are possible problems.

Dwarf Serbian spruce (Picea omorika ‘Nana’):

A dwarf cultivar growing 8 to 10 feet high.  Its shape is conical to globose.

Sky Trails Serbian spruce (Picea omorika ‘Sky Trails’):

Blue-green needles with contrasting white bands underneath hang on branches with a weeping habit.


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