Norway Spruce

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The Norway Spruce may be one of the most iconic trees to exist. These trees originated from Europe and now resides in the 2/3 of Northeast United States and in East Canada as well. They could grow to be over 100 feet tall and 25 feet wide and live up to approximately 300 years. Given their massive size and long life span, their prevalence in human history has been clearly noted in human culture. For instance, this type of tree is considered to be the "Christmas Tree," even being placed in Rockefeller center for Christmas. Also, some other fun facts about the Norway Spruce include using their young branches to make beer, shoot tips for medical ointments and concoctions, and wood for instruments or furniture pieces. Its sheer size, population, human applications, and cultural significance highlight how significance of the Norway Spruce.
Soren Saggi
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
5.30 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.26 m

The bark of this tree appears scaly and greenish or grayish-brown. Young trees have fine shaven, thin bark, while older trees have heavier, thicker, shedded scales. Based on these descriptions, we would say this tree is mature as some of the scaly bark is shedding.
Twigs & branches
The branches of Norway Spruce curve upwards, yet some lower branches tend to droop as the age due to the weight of the 1/2 inch green, needle-like leaves on its branches. These lower branches will eventually fall off, while the top of the tree will thin out to be less conical in shape. These branches typically had brownish red buds at their tips (usually on their branchlets). Many of its lateral branches are slightly incurved and ascending. The overall shape of the tree from these branches make the tree appear pyramidal given that the branches appeared to curve more near the top, generating a point-like tip compared to flat branches near the bottom.
The Norway Spruce's leaves are dark green and needle-like. These singular needles could grow up to an inch long. These needles are slightly curved, very smooth, and are straight (given only a slight curve). These needles stay for several years, falling off after 2 to 3 years. These needles are likely to fall near the summer season. The needle's narrow design and cuticle surrounding reduces surface area dehydration. The needle's stomata are found within pits, being aligned in rows, to increase air transpiration. These needles grow from fascicles, bundles of two to five needles.
Reproductive Structures
The Norway Spruce is a gymnosperm, meaning its seeds are not protected by a fruit (using pine cones). This method of reproduction does not depend on water for fertilization. These trees produce both male and female cones to reproduce (pollen cones from the lower part of the tree and ovulate cones from the upper part of the tree). The pollen cones contain sporangia, which undergo meiosis to produce microspores to become pollen grains. On the other hand, the ovulate cones have two ovules per scale with a sporangium called a nucellus, which only has one opening called a micropyle. Using the wind as a travel mechanism, the pollen grains from the pollen cone enter the micropyle in the ovulate cone, which allow the grains to germinate in the ovule to form the pollen tube to enter the nucellus. After a year, fertilization will begin, where the mother cells goes through meiosis to produce 4 haploid cells. Three of them will die, and the remaining one will be called the megaspore. The megaspore will divide by mitosis to become an immature female gametophyte, containing two to three archegonia with an egg per each. Once the eggs are ready to be fertilized, two sperm cells will have matured in the pollen grain, and the pollen tube will have penetrated the nucellus to the female gametophyte. Next, the sperm and the egg will fuse to form an embryo. This embryo will have elementary leaves and roots and will be nourished inside the gametophyte, which will subsequently produce the pine seed to grow into a tree. These pine cones are cylindrical and 10-15 centimeters long by about 4 centimeters wide. They also have a light brown color when fully matured. These cones hang down from the branches at their tip. The female cones are also usually larger than the male cones.
Because the Norway Spruce is a gymnosperm, this plant does not grow fruit. However, it does produce seeds. These seeds could be found in between the scales of cones and are released near the summer. Once they fall out, they are distributed via wind or other animals like birds. These seeds are black and 5/32 to 3/16 inches. There is no requirement for supplemental water during normal periods. These seeds also germinate within one to three weeks upon normal daytime temperature (75 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Norway Spruce (Winter) (Taken: 2/25/2021)
  • Norway Spruce (Spring) (Taken: 4/14/2021)
Natural range of distribution: 
Norway Spruce live in either pure or mixed stand moist forests, lowlands, or mountains. They avoid dry conditions and bad soil, but is able to live in extreme oceanic environments even if not ideal. They live underneath taller trees (shade-tolerant) and later grow past them within 5-10 years. Spruces could be found in East Asia, Southeastern Canada, North America, and Europe. In Europe, these trees could be found within the northern or central mountains eastern to the Urals in either montane or sub-alpine zones (dominating the boreal zone of Europe). In North America, it is found in cool and temperate regions, such as: near the Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain states, and the northeast. However, it cannot thrive within areas with salted wind or summer drought. Norway Spruce also show a self-acidifying ability, allowing to survive in acidic soils.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The Norway Spruce originally comes from Eurasia’s Black Forest and Scandinavia in Europe in 500 B.C. It was later introduced to the British Isles in 1500 A.D., which would take the plant to start growing in northeastern United States, Southeastern Canada, Pacific Coast states, and Rocky Mountains. Some historical aspects about the Norway Spruce include it being dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis and being used to help in births and being linked back to Jesus Christ’s birth to inspire the use of Christmas Trees like in Alsace in France. The uses of this tree include: acting as a tool for reforestation, erosion control; being windbreakers and shelterbelts for farming; grafting stock of other spruces; providing materials for fragrances, alcohols, furniture, instruments, paper, stationery writing, tanning, and drugs; being a Christmas Tree; and repopulating other diverse species via its sequenced genome.   

The Norway Spruce is a monoecious plant - having both male and female reproductive parts - and is a wind-pollinated gymnosperm - meaning its pollen grains from the pollen cones travel to its ovulate cones via wind. The Norway Spruce cones open for pollination from May to June. The resulting seeds ripen and mature in late autumn, being released in warm temperatures in late autumn to winter. However, there are instances of seeds not being released until Spring. Then the process repeats as the seeds will now grow into trees once released.

Arbor Day Foundation. (2021). Norway SprucePicea abies. Norway Spruce Tree on the Tree Guide at 

Caudullo, , G., Tinner, W., & de Rigo, D. (2016). Picea abies in Europe: distribution, habitat, usage and threats. European Atlas of Forested Species . 

Nature GAt. (n.d.). Luontoportti. Norway Spruce, Picea abies - Trees and shrubs - NatureGate. 

Other information of interest: 

Other site for further basic information:

- (NaturesPace)

- (UConn Nature Walk site)

Media and Arts

A Beacon

Letting loose the bowstring

An eternal arrow was sent racing

Its intent did not spell doom 

Rather a glowing, radiant bloom

A single arrow through the night sky

Hitting all life throughout time 

The blinding light enormous and pure

An ensuring constant that hope endures

All deaths no matter how bitter

Were overcasted by that green arrow’s shimmer

Though it be of a pantheon’s worth

It now belongs to the children of earth 

The rooted arrow in perpetuous flight

Beacons that grow infinite over plight 

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