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Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis (L.) Peterm.)

Also known as oriental spruce.

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A large, relatively narrow spruce tree with a columnar shape and fine, dark green foliage, in a suburban setting
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.


A large evergreen tree native to the Caucusus mountains, occasionally used in landscaping in North America.

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Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
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The potential habitat preferences of this species in North America are not well-known. It may not have much potential to survive here. However, it is also possible that its lack of establishment more reflects the fact that it has not been widely planted, or has not been planted near suitable habitat. The climate in North America tends to be considerably more extreme than in its native range, so its survival here may be limited both by summer heat and winter cold, especially wind. Its native range also has strongly seasonal rainfall centering around late spring and early summer, contrasting with most of North America where rainfall is either more evenly distributed throughout the year, or follows a different pattern of seasonality.

In its native range, this species is found mostly in sheltered ravines in mountainous terrain at elevations of about 1,000-6,900ft (300-2,100m). It tolerates nutrient-poor rocky soils, and requires good drainage, but prefers moist conditions. It is shade-tolerant as reflected by its presence together with beech, a highly shade-tolerant species, in its native habitat, as well as by its retaining of lower branches even as it matures.


This species is occasionally used in landscaping, where it is valued for its narrower spread than the more widely-planted Norway spruce (Picea abies).

Even though there are no signs of it being invasive, there are ample choices of native evergreen trees, and at best this species, when planted, takes up space that could be occupied by locally-native evergreen trees.

This species is not closely related to any of the North American spruces; its closest relatives are all native to Europe through East Asia and none of them are found in the wild in North America. Among ones found here, its closest relative is the Norway spruce (Picea abies).


We prefer the common name "Caucasian spruce" as it more accurately communicates the native range of this species, in the Caucasus Mountains. The widely-used name "oriental spruce" is misleading because most species bearing the label "oriental" are native to East Asia. The term "oriental" can refer to anything considered "east" of Europe, and as such encompassed an extremely broad region.

Picea orientalis (L.) Peterm. | Plants of the World Online (POWO) (About This Site)

Photo gallery

A large, relatively narrow spruce tree with a columnar shape and fine, dark green foliage, in a suburban setting
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
A green, unopened seed cone hanging down from a spruce twig, with the foliage having very short needles.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
A spruce seed cone, light brown in color, with open scales, relatively small, held in a hand, with grassy background
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Branching foliage of a spruce tree showing very short, bright green needles, light brown, fuzzy twigs, and brown buds
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
A gloved hand holding a bunch of fine-textured branching foliage of a spruce tree, with very short, bright green needles.
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.
A gray scaly tree trunk, completely straight, partly covered in ivy and with some spruce foliage hanging down in front
Photo © Alex Zorach, CC BY-SA 4.0.