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Oriental Spruce

August 5, 2022

Tree of the Month

Picea orientalis

The Oriental, or Picea orientalis, is a fantastic and under- utilized evergreen in the landscape.  Native to the Caucasus mountains in eastern Europe, it performs quite well in the Eastern United States in USDA Hardiness zones 4-7.  Growing in a conical or pyramidal shape up to 125 feet tall in its native habitat, it typically only reaches 60-80’ in the northeast by approximately 20-25’ wide.

The needles are a glossy, shiny dark green, and among the shortest of all spruces at only ¼-1/3 inch in length.  The needles are blunt tipped and arranged radially around the branchlet facing towards the tip.  The branches themselves have a tendency to have a pendulous, drooping habit.

The bark is a smooth gray with hints of pink when young, becoming slightly platy with age.  The male cones are reddish in color with the female cones emerging purple and becoming a dark brown as they mature.  The mature cones are smaller than some of our other common spruces at only 2-4” in length.

This hardy tree resembles a smaller, more compact Norway spruce, which is commonly overused in the landscape.  The Oriental spruce requires a bit more water when being established, but once adapted to its location, this medium growing evergreen can provide a nice spice of variety to your evergreen palate.

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