Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis) in Suburban Landscaping, Delaware, July

Photo of Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

A large, relatively narrow spruce tree with a columnar shape and fine, dark green foliage, in a suburban setting

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Taken on Jul. 7, 2020

This photo shows the typical form and shape of a mature caucasian spruce (Picea orientalis) planted in landscaping in a suburban neighborhood in Delaware.

Note the strongly columnar habit, with the tree being relatively narrow at the base and the spread of the branches being nearly constant for most of the height of the tree, only becoming conical-to-rounded in the crown. Note also that the tree has retained dense, lush foliage the whole way to the ground. This lushness reflects a combination of shade-tolerance of this species (i.e. that lower branches do not die when shaded out by upper ones) and general tolerance to environmental conditions here. I.e. although this species is not necessarily well-adapted to this climate, it does not appear to suffer the sort of drought stress that often causes trees to drop lower branches.

Overall, individuals of this species in this area tend to look healthier, more lush and full, than individuals of the more widely-planted Norway spruce (Picea abies). That species also has a very different shape, broader at the base and more pyramidal to conical over its whole length. Perhaps owing to its more northerly distribution and lesser tolerance of hot, dry conditions that sometimes hit in this region of North America, that species also tends to develop thinner, more sickly looking foliage on its branches on many individuals.

Photographer & Copyright

© Alex Zorach

Photo Source

CC BY-SA 4.0

Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 1 plant ID/comparison guide:

collage of Norway Spruce and Caucasian Spruce

Norway Spruce (Picea abies) vs. Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

Updated January 16th, 2023

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.

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