- Subspecies: Norway spruce (ssp. abies), Siberian spruce (ssp. obovata)
- Family: Pine Family – Pinaceae
- Growing form and height: Coniferous tree. 20–30 m (65–100 ft.).
- Flower: Small, lacking perianth. Male and female flowers separately in dense inflorescences called cones (or strobili). Female inflorescences erect, red. Male inflorescences greenish.
- Leaves: Evergreen, narrow, sharp-pointed, four-edged, dark green, 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in.) long needles. Borne singly on the branches.
- Cone: Winged seeds in a pendent cone.
- Habitat: Moist forests (in pure or mixed stands), swamps.
- Flowering time: May–June.
The Pine family conifers are monoecious trees or shrubs whose tissues contain resin. They belong to the class Gymnospermae which is characterised by wind pollination, structurally simple flowers and seeds that are borne naked on the surface of the cone scales.
Most of the spruces are native in East-Asia, a few species in North America, but only two are indigenous in Europe. There are plenty of spruce varieties which are used as ornamentals. Being wind-pollinated trees spruces produce large amounts of pollen. In early summer the pollen of Norway spruce often gathers e.g. on lake shores forming thick yellow bands.
Norway spruce thrives in a variety of habitats but avoids the driest and poorest soils. As a shade tolerant species it is a successful competitor. It forms a lower canopy layer beneath taller trees and, eventually, overgrows them. In Finland Norway spruce is divided into two subspecies. The broader crowned ssp. abies dominates in the south and the very narrow crowned ssp. obovata in the north. Hybrids between the two subspecies are common.
Douglas Fir (Douglas Spruce, Oregon Pine)
Pseudozuga menziesii var. glauca
In Finland Douglas fir is quite common ornamental tree that in small amounts has escaped to the wild. Its northern limit is about the same as the Arctic circle. Upper side of needles is dark green, lower side with 2 lighter lines. Needles are ca. 1 cm longer than Norway spruce’s and in any order (Norway spruce’s needles are spirally). Douglas fir can be confused with Abies species, which in Finland are cultivated as ornamentals. Abies fir’s cones are erect, Douglas fir’s hanging like Norway spruce’s.
Blue Spruce (Green Spruce, White Spruce, Colorado Spruce)
Also blue spruce and especially variety ‘Glauca’ is a popular ornamental tree. Its needles are square, curved, sharp pointed and usually silver grey.