Norway Spruce tree identification 

The Norway Spruce Picea abies, 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. In Britain it has a lifespan of 200 years and reaches a height of 40 m. Its timber is known as ‘white deal’ used mainly for internal construction.  It was the traditional Christmas tree and is probably now the commonest ornamental spruce. Norway Spruce tree identification – abundant, long, hanging cones, orange shoots with green needles that have white stripes underneath. It has masses of large cones near the top of the tree. The needles are not spiky. 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.

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. 


Norway Spruce tree

A Norway Spruce loaded with cones.


Long cones hang down even at low levels on the tree and are easy to see.

Norway Spruce cone

The cone is very long, up to 20cm and the scale edges are wavy.  Photo taken in October.

Norway Spruce bark

 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.

 needles, pegs, shoot

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.


Norway Spruce needles

The needles are located above and below the shoot.

Norway Spruce pollen cones

Male pollen cones in May