Picea abies (L.) H.Karst.

Common Spruce

A tall, conical-columnar tree with short branches. Buds conical, pointed, 4-5 mm long, hardly resinous. Young shoots reddish to orange-brown. Leaves mostly 1-2 cm long, slender, acute, pale green, overlapping and pointing forwards on the upper surface of shoot, on the lower surface spreading to expose the shoot surface. Male cones about 1 cm long, yellow. Female cones green when young, pale brown and slightly curved when mature, mostly 10-15 cm long but occasionally longer, cylindrical, tapering to the tip; scales rounded or notched at the tip, slightly wavy edged, more or less rhomboidal, thinly woody. Seed c. 4 mm long, wing about 1.5 cm long.

Grows naturally in N and C Europe in large forests from plains to mountains of alt. 1800 m. Widely cultivated. This is the spruce commonly used as a Christmas tree.

One of the world's most important timber trees.

Leaves mostly pale-green; shoots orange-brown; cones long and tough with shiny brown scales.

NSW: Albury (Bot. Gds); Batlow (Pilot Hill Arboretum); Bundanoon (in front of Bundanoon Hotel, 60 years old in 1993); Mittagong (Albert St, Uniting Church); Orange (Cook Park). ACT: Royal Canberra Hospital; Yarralumla (Nsy ptd c. 1920). VIC: Ballarat (Bot. Gds); Dandenongs (Hamer Arboretum, ptd 1975; 'Pirianda'); Emerald (lake, conifer group above car park, 25 m tall); Korumburra (public park); Maroondah Dam (several 20 m tall); Kyneton (Firth Park, Wombat State Forest); Yackandandah (1 street tree). TAS: Launceston (Cataract Gorge); Plenty (Salmon Ponds). VIC: Dandenongs ('Pirianda').

Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Pinaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Picea abies 'Acrocona'

Low, widespreading and branches pendulous, the branch tips with contorted cones. Found near Uppsala, Sweden and brought into cultivation in nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Aurea'

Small-growing with creamy foliage. Often found as a seedling variant and probably best treated sa group name.

Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana'

Dwarf, rounded, extremely slow growing, compact. Discovered on Moira Estate near Belfast c. 1790, later moved by Lord Clanbrassil to his property at Tullymore, County Down and introduced to cultivation by him.

Picea abies 'Compacta Asselyn'

As for 'Compacta' but more condensed and with shorter leaves when young. Origin Netherlands in the 1930s.

Picea abies 'Compacta'

Dwarf, conical, broad with lower branches spreading, upper erect. A cultivar name probably referring to a range of clones and therefore probably best treated as a group name.

Picea abies 'Conica'

Dwarf, slow growing, compact, conical. Origin France nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Cupressina'

Narrowly columnar tree 10-20 m tall. Found at Fambach, Germany and introduced to cultivation in Germany.

Picea abies 'Echiniformis'

Dwarf, extremely slow-growing, dense, compact but irregular form. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Ellwangeriana'

Dwarf, widespreading, dense, with several upright branches. Originated North America nineteenth century .

Picea abies 'Gregoryana'

Dwarf, extremely slow-growing, dense, round, needles densely arranged c. 8-12 mm long. Rather similar to 'Echiniformis' but without the longer shoots. Origin UK nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Inversa'

Medium-sized with weeping foliage, the branches closely pressed to the stem. Found r. Smith, Kinlet Hall, Shropshire c. 1855.

Picea abies 'Little Gem'

Dwarf, slow-growing, flattened, globose; leaves close set. Arose as witch's broom on a 'Nidiformis' in Grootendorst nursery at Boskoop, Netherlands c. 1958.

Picea abies 'Maxwellii'

Dwarf, low-growing, compact, outline irregular. American cultivar raised over 100 years ago with several form variants. Originated from grounds of T. C. Maxwell Bros, Geneva, New York, USA, c. 1860.

Picea abies 'Nidiformis'

Dwarf, widespreading with a nest-like hollow in the centre. Raised Rulemann Grisson, nurseryman Sasselheide near Hamburg, Germany.

Picea abies 'Ohlendorffii'

Dwarf, round becoming conical, branches ascending, branchlets irregular. Raised t. Ohlendorff, Germany c. 1845.

Picea abies 'Pendula'

Branches pendulous. A name of uncertain application. Origin believed to be a clone of f. pendula Rehder.

Picea abies 'Procumbens'

('Prostrata') Quick-growing, flattened, spreading bush, with foliage in flat sprays and exceptionally long leaves. Raised a. Seneclauze, Bour Argental, France, c. 1850.

Picea abies 'Pumila Glauca'

Habit as 'Pumila' but foliage bluish. Origin UK, nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Pumila Nigra'

Like 'Pumila' but with the branches at a steeper angle. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Pumila'

Dwarf, low growing and widespreading, new growth yellowish and flexible. Origin uk nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Pygmaea'

Dwarf, extremely slow-growing, dense, compact, new growth greyish and yellow. An old cultivar known in horticulture since c. 1800. Origin UK nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Reflexa'

Branches pendulous and needing training or the plant will become prostrate. Origin France nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Remontii'

Dwarf with a regular conical habit and branches spreading, twigs thin. Origin UK nineteenth century.

Picea abies 'Yamina Seedling'

Dwarf, globular when young, broadening with age, some branches bending down; foliage dark green. Grows 2-3 cm a year. Selected as a seedling by Don Teese; introduced c. 1980.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Pinaceae
genus       Picea A.Dietr.