Picea abies (Norway Spruce)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Pinaceae (Pine)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:sun; human landscapes
Bloom season:June
Plant height:45 to 60 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information


Male and female flowers are cone like structures called strobili, both borne on the same tree at or near the tips of one year old branches. Females are erect, reddish brown, about ¼ inch long. Males are yellowish brown and clustered in large groups.

Leaves and bark: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of needles and branch buds] Leaves are needle-like, dark green and shiny, single in a close spiral up the branch, ½ to 1 inch long, four-angled but slightly flattened in cross section, the tip tapered to a sharp point but not sharp to the touch. The needles typically persist 4 to 5 years.

[photo of needles on twig] Twigs are orangish brown, smooth, turning grayish brown after several seasons with the fallen needles leaving raised roughish leaf scars.

[photo of trunk] The bark is reddish brown with flaky scales.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of cones] Fruit is an oblong cone, 4 to 6 inches long, reddish-brown colored, the scales diamond shaped, stiff and leathery often with a small notch at the tip, and wavy edges with small, irregular teeth.


In its native Europe, Norway Spruce is widespread and dominant in boreal conifer forests. It has long been planted in urban and rural landscapes throughout the Great Lakes Region and through the mid-Atlantic up into New England. A large and graceful tree, it has few insect or disease problems. For all its use in cultivation there are few documented occurrences of it naturalizing in Minnesota. Most frequently encountered in urban landscapes, it is most readily identified by its long pendulous branchlets hanging from broad, upswept lateral branches and by its very large cones.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Ramsey and Washington counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: luciearl - owatonna
on: 2016-10-23 19:26:58

I am sure there are more than a few Norway Spruce at Dartt's Park among many other large stately trees. I've wondered for years what type these large old pines were, and now seeing the picture, I know they are Norway Spruce.

Posted by: Dan garza - St. Paul
on: 2020-07-22 14:41:24

Hear these were great for making violins,would like to use in making drumshell,straight type.keep it all minnesota.We have all ghee elements.

Posted by: Susan McCarthy - Minneapolis
on: 2021-01-24 10:28:05

We have a large mature Norway Spruce in our backyard and this season it began to "shed" it's most current growth. Dropping a ton of its greenery. Is this normal?

Posted by: Jennifer O. - Edina
on: 2021-10-30 16:38:31

We have a giant Norway spruce in our backyard in Edina. Its thought to be over 150 years old.

Posted by: Sharon Mount - Bloomington
on: 2021-12-27 01:10:00

My home town is Bloomington. We had a giant Norway spruce in the back yard. It's lower branches were probably as wide as the tree was tall. I spent much time climbing that tree. It was so tall I could see downtown Minneapolis skyscrapers from near the top of that tree. Of all the things about that home I missed the most after my mom sold the property was that big beautiful pine. I knew every branch on that tree. I wish I knew how tall it is now. Been 20 years since she sold that place.

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