Norway Spruce                            

Norway Spruce (Picea abies) is a species of spruce native to Europe. It is also commonly referred to as the European Spruce.

It is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 35-55 m (115–180 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1-1.5 m. The shoots are orange-brown and glabrous (hairless). The leaves are needle-like, 12–24 mm long, quadrangular in cross-section (not flattened), and dark green on all four sides with inconspicuous stomatal lines. The cones are 9–17 cm long (the longest of any spruce), and have bluntly to sharply triangular-pointed scale tips. They are green or reddish, maturing brown 5–7 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 4–5 mm long, with a pale brown 15 mm wing.

The tallest measured Norway Spruce, 63 m (207 ft) tall, is in Perucica Virgin Forest, Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Populations in southeast Europe tend to have on average longer cones with more pointed scales; these are sometimes distinguished as Picea abies var. acuminata (Beck) Dallim. & A.B.Jacks., but there is extensive overlap in variation with trees from other parts of the range.

Some botanists treat Siberian Spruce as a subspecies of Norway Spruce, though in their typical forms, they are very distinct, the Siberian Spruce having cones only 5–10 cm long, with smoothly rounded scales, and pubescent (hairy) shoots. Genetically Norway and Siberian Spruces have turned out to be extremely similar and may be considered as two closely related subspecies of P. abies.

Another spruce with smoothly rounded cone scales and hairy shoots occurs rarely in the central Alps in eastern Switzerland. It is also distinct in having thicker, blue-green leaves. Many texts treat this as a variant of Norway Spruce, but it is as distinct as many other spruces, and appears to be more closely related to Siberian Spruce, Schrenk's Spruce (P. schrenkiana) from central Asia and Morinda Spruce (P. smithiana) in the Himalaya. Treated as a distinct species, it takes the name Alpine Spruce (Picea alpestris (Brügger) Stein). As with Siberian Spruce, it hybridises extensively with Norway Spruce; pure specimens are rare. Hybrids are commonly known as Norwegian Spruce, which should not be confused with the pure species Norway Spruce

Norway Spruce grows throughout Europe from Norway in the northwest and Poland eastward, and also in the mountains of central Europe, southwest to the western end of the Alps, and southeast in the Carpathians and Balkans to the extreme north of Greece. The northern limit is in the arctic, just north of 70°N in Norway. Its eastern limit in Russia is hard to define, due to extensive hybridisation and intergradation with the Siberian Spruce (Picea obovata, syn. P. abies subsp. obovata), but is usually given as the Ural Mountains. However, trees showing some Siberian Spruce characters extend as far west as much of northern Finland, with a few records in northeast Norway. The hybrid is known as Picea × fennica (or P. abies subsp. × fennica, if the two taxa are considered subspecies), and can be distinguished by a tendency towards having hairy shoots and cones with smoothly rounded scales. In North America, Norway Spruce is widely planted, specifically in the northeastern, Pacific Coast, and Rocky Mountain states, as well as in southeastern Canada. There are naturalized populations occurring from Connecticut to Michigan, and it is probable that they occur elsewhere

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