The Norway Spruce, a conifer native to Southern Scandinavia, the Alps, the Balkans and Russia, was introduced to Britain around 1500. It is now very common in forests, shelter belts, parks and gardens. It was the traditional Christmas tree and is probably now the commonest ornamental spruce. It has masses of large cones near the top of the tree. The needles are not spiky. There are about 35 species of Spruce worldwide. They are evergreen conifers found right across North America and Eurasia. They form vast forests in northern regions and some, such as the Sitka Spruce, have been widely planted for timber production in Britain. They can easily be confused with Firs but differ in the way the needles are attached to their shoots. They have cones that hang down whereas Firs have cones that stand up.
A Norway Spruce loaded with cones.
Long cones hang down even at low levels on the tree and are easy to see.
The cone is very long, up to 20cm and the scale edges are wavy. Photo taken in October.
The bark is coppery and cracked into rounded plates.
The needles are dark green, short (1.5 to 2.5cm) and pointed but not sharp.
The dark green needles have white bands underneath. The shoot is orange and each needle is attached to the shoot at a small wooden peg, like all Spruces. Firs are attached at round pads.
The needles are located above and below the shoot.
Male pollen cones in May