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Norway Spruce

Scientific Name

Picea abies

Origin

Native to central and northern Europe, extending into Norway, thus its name.  Early European settlers in America brought the tree with them.

Habitat

Prefers moist, cool climates.  Soils should be moist and slightly acidic with a pH of 5.0 to 7.5. Growth rate decreases as pH goes up.  Adaptable to a variety of soil types, but will die quickly in wet soils. 

Growth Nature

Probably the fastest growing spruce, they can easily reach 80 ft. or more with a spread of 40 ft.  The Norway spruce has a distinctive strong central leader with horizontal side branches and vertically pendulous branchlets.  Their large cones can reach 4 to 8 inches long and hang down from the ends of the branches.  In the right conditions they can grow 2 to 3 feet per year, but average about a foot per year.  

Points of Interest

  • Commonly used as Christmas trees.

  • The wood is considered strong for its weight and the pulp is used for lumber as well.

  • Norway spruce has been used to make sound boards in violins, guitars, and other string instruments because of its resonance qualities.  Stradivarius took Norway spruce that had been used to make ship oars and produced his violins from it. 

  • The pitch or sap is used for varnish and in some medicines.

  • The DNA of the Norway spruce has recently been sequenced. In the human genome it takes 3 billion base pairs to code our DNA.  The Norway spruce genome requires almost 7 times that--20 million base pairs.