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Norway Spruce

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Norway Spruce
Conservation status: Secure
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Picea_abies_shoot.jpg



Shoot of Norway Spruce
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Pinophyta
Class:Pinopsida
Order:Pinales
Family:Pinaceae
Genus:Picea
Species:P. abies

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

The Norway Spruce (Picea abies) is a large evergreen tree growing to 35-55 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1-1.5 m. It grows throughout northeast Europe from Norway and Poland eastward, and also in the mountains of central Europe, southwest to the western end of the Alps, and southeast in the Carpathians and Balkans to the extreme north of Greece. The northern limit is in the arctic, just north of 70°N in Norway. Its eastern limit in Russia is hard to define, due to extensive hybridisation and intergradation with the Siberian Spruce (Picea obovata), but is usually given as the Ural Mountains. However, trees showing some Siberian Spruce characters extend as far west as much of northern Finland, with a few records in northeast Norway. The hybrid is known as Picea x fennica.

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Largepinecone.jpg
Norway Spruce cone

Norway Spruce shoots are orange-brown and glabrous (hairless). The leaves are needle-like, 12-24 mm long, quadrangular in cross-section (not flattened), and dark green on all four sides with inconspicuous stomatal lines. The cones are 9-17 cm long (the longest of any spruce), and have triangular-pointed scale tips. They are green or reddish, maturing brown 5-7 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 4-5 mm long, with a pale brown 15 mm wing.

Populations in southeast Europe tend to have on average longer cones with more pointed scales; these are sometimes distinguished as Picea abies var. acuminata, but there is extensive overlap in variation with trees from other parts of the range.

Some botanists treat Siberian Spruce as a subspecies of Norway Spruce, though in their typical forms, they are very distinct, the Siberian Spruce having cones only 5-10 cm long, with smoothly rounded scales, and pubescent (hairy) shoots.

Another spruce with smoothly rounded cone scales and hairy shoots occurs rarely in the central Alps in eastern Switzerland. It is also distinct in having thicker, blue-green leaves. Many texts treat this as a variant of Norway Spruce, but it is as distinct as many other spruces, and appears to be more closely related to Siberian Spruce, Schrenk's Spruce (P. schrenkiana) from central Asia and Morinda Spruce (P. smithiana) in the Himalaya. Treated as a distinct species, it takes the name Alpine Spruce (Picea alpestris). As with Siberian Spruce, it hybridises extensively with Norway Spruce; pure specimens are rare.

Cultivation and uses

Norway Spruce is one of the most widely planted spruces, both in and outside of its native range, used in forestry for timber and paper production, and as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It is also widely planted for use as a Christmas tree. It is naturalised in some parts of North America, though not so extensively as to be considered an invasive weed tree.

External Links

de:Gemeine Fichte fr:Picea abies it:Abete rosso nl:Fijnspar pl:Świerk pospolity sl:Smreka sv:Gran

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