Norway spruce

Norway Spruce

©Amadej Trnkoczy

Norway spruce

Scientific name: Picea abies
The Norway spruce was introduced into the UK from Scandinavia in the 16th century. It is familiar to us all as the 'original' Christmas tree and displays hanging, reddish-brown, oblong cones.

Species information


Height: up to 40m

Conservation status

Introduced, non-native species.

When to see

January to December


The Norway spruce is a tall, evergreen conifer, originally from Scandinavia that was introduced into the UK in the 16th century. Familiar to us all as the traditional 'Christmas tree', the Norway spruce is a common sight across the UK's landscape, cultivated in plantations for the Christmas tree market and for timber products.
It is pyramidal in shape, displays needle-like, pointed leaves, and has large, cigar-shaped cones that open their 'scales' to release the seeds inside. Individual trees can grow to 40m.

How to identify

Spruce trees can be distinguished from fir trees because they have downwards-hanging cones; and they differ from pine trees by having shorter needles. The Norway spruce has reddish-brown, cigar-shaped cones that are longer (15-20cm long) than those of the Sitka Spruce (10cm long).


Widely planted for forestry.

Did you know?

The Norway spruce is considered to be the 'original' Christmas tree, but the tradition of bringing one into the home and hanging decorations on its branches only reached our shores in Victorian times; lagging behind Eastern Europe by 300 years.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.