||Norway spruce is one of the most important species on the
European Continent. More than 100 forms and varieties have
been named. Although not native to the Western hemisphere,
the species and a number of its varieties are commonly planted
here, particularly in southeastern Canada and northeastern
United States. Originally, a number of plants were established
as ornamentals, with Christmas tree plantings being established
more recently. It has escaped cultivation in several localities
and is considered naturalized in some of these areas.
In Europe, Norway spruce grows from 130 to 215 feet in
height, but in the United States is seldom more than 130
feet tall. Diameter may reach as much as two feet on older
trees. It is readily identified by its dark green needles and
drooping branchlets. Trees have dark green crown with a
triangular shape. Leaves (needles) are 4-sided (rectangular
in section), 1/2-1 inch long, and sharp or somewhat blunt at
the tip. At the base of each needle is a twig-like projection
(sterigmata) which remains after the needle is lost. Although
sometimes confused with true firs (Abies), spruces in general
have 1) rectangular rather than flat needles, and 2) cones which
hang down rather than stand erect on the stem. Additionally,
spruce cones fall from the tree after seeds are disseminated,
whereas fir cones disintegrate.
Male and female flowers are found on the same tree and are
produced in late spring. Norway Spruce produces cones 4-7
inches in length, with wedge-shaped scales. These cones are
the largest of any spruce species. Cones mature in one year
and ripen from September to November.
The species has a reddish bark, giving it the nickname of
"red fir", which flakes off in scales as the tree matures.
The species is adapted to cool, temperate climates.
Growth is best in full sunlight in deep, rich, moist soils.
It is generally shallow-rooted and does not produce a
taproot, thus is subject to being blown over by wind.
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