The Norway Spruce (Picea abies
) is better known as the traditional Christmas tree or Xmas tree and is a large, fast-growing evergreen.
This very well-known conifer was first introduced into the UK in the 16th century. It is still the Christmas Tree of choice for many homes.
The Norway Spruce grows to 35–55 metres (115–180 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 metres. It can grow fast when young, up to 1 metre (3 ft) per year for the first 25 years under good conditions, but becomes slower once over 20 metres (66 ft) tall.
The leaves are needle-like, 12–24 mm long, dark green. The cones are 9–17 cm long (the longest of any spruce) and are green or reddish, maturing brown 5–7 months after pollination.
Norway Spruce grows to be a large pyramidal tree so can soon outgrow a small or medium sized garden.
The Norway spruce is one of the most widely planted spruces and one of the most economically important coniferous species in Europe, where it is used for timber and paper production.
The tree is the source of spruce beer, which was apparently used to prevent and even cure scurvy!
The high vitamin C content in the tree can be consumed as a tea from the shoot tips or even eaten straight from the tree when light green and new in Spring. (ALTHOUGH WE'VE NOT TRIED THIS - AND DON'T RECOMMEND YOU DO THIS EITHER!!).
Mythology and symbolism
In Greek mythology, the spruce is devoted to Artemis, goddess of the Moon and of the wild. The spruce is also known as the tree of birth.