The Norway Spruce is native to the European Alps, Northern Europe, the Balkan mountains, and the the Carpathians, with its range extending north to Scandanavia and merging with the Siberian Spruce in northern Russia. It was introduced to the British Isles as early as 1500 AD, and is widely planted in North America, particularly abundant in the northeastern United States, which is where this specific Spruce is located. Most early American forestry depended upon Europe for guidance, thus it isn’t strange that the Norway Spruce was one of the earliest species used in forest plantations in the northeast. In one specific study, the oldest planting found was in 1860 near Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
This species is so economically important to humans, and has been for an extremely long time, so it has been dispersed and has naturalized in many areas outside of its native range. In fact, the oldest specimen is approximately 9,550 years old, not only is it the oldest spruce, but also the world’s oldest living tree that has reproduced through layering.
The wood of the Norway Spruce is strong, soft, straight and fine grained. It is easily worked, and is often used for construction, pulp and paper production, furniture, and musical instruments. One of its most popular and well-known uses is as a Christmas Tree in countries where it is grown, like the United States. It also also been used for windbreaks and shelterbelts. Additionally, the fresh shoot tips are used medicinally for syrup, teas, baths, inhalation and ointments. Spruce beer can also be made, which was common throughout history in colonial times, and making a sturdy appearance in the French & Indian War. This spruce beer, full of nutritional benefits like Vitamin C, was undoubtedly safer to drink than water. They sustain a large variety of wildlife, especially birds. For example, as native Eastern Hemlocks population decline in Massachusetts, scientists have hypothesized that the non-native Norway Spruce has provided a habitat for the songbirds that rely on the Eastern Hemlock since both species share similar characterisitics.