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Norway Spruce vs Caucasian Spruce

These two species are easily confused; both are tall and have dark green foliage and similar bark. They are easily told apart by needles and twigs, cones, and form. Both are widely planted in landscaping in Eastern North America, with Norway spruce more common. Norway spruce has widely established in the wild whereas Caucasian spruce has generally not done so. Both species are shade-tolerant; Norway spruce is more tolerant of poor drainage.

Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

Native to Europe, and widely planted in northeastern North America, occasionally established in the wild. The spruce in North America with the widest growth habit.
A large evergreen tree native to the Caucusus mountains, occasionally used in landscaping in North America.
More conical form, broader at the base but narrowing more at the top.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Narrower, more cylindrical form, having more-or-less the same width until the very top of the tree.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Twigs are hairless.
Photo © Randy A Nonenmacher, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Twigs are covered in fine hair. May require magnification to see.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Much larger cones.
Photo © Derek, CC BY 4.0.
Much smaller cones.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Much longer needles. Needles of mature twigs often project more perpendicular to the twig.
Photo © Mark Apgar, CC BY 4.0.
Much shorter neeldes. Needles angle forward more strongly in the direction of the twig.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Cone scales have flattened tips, often with teeth or notches, making an abrupt angle with diagonal edges; exposed part of cone scales on closed cones is usually roughly diamond shaped.
Photo © Jason Swanson, Public Domain.
Cone scales have gently rounded tips, lacking notches. Exposed part of cone scales on closed cones is much wider than tall.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.

References & External Resources

These short lists show only links helpful for ID. For a complete list of references and resources also covering other aspects of ecology, visit the links section of the full article on each plant, whcih is the first entry here.

Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

Picea abies | Go Botany (About This Site)

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Picea abies (Norway Spruce) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

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Norway Spruce | Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets (About This Site)

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Picea abies | Flora of North America (About This Site)

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Picea abies | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

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