A large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 35-55 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1 - 1.5 m.
It grows throughout northeast Europe from Norway and Poland eastward, and also in the mountains of central Europe, southwest to the western end of the Alps, and southeast in the Carpathians and Balkans to the extreme north of Greece. The northern limit is in the arctic, just north of 70°N in Norway. Its eastern limit in Russia is hard to define, due to extensive hybridisation and intergradation with the Siberian Spruce (Picea obovata), but is usually given as the Ural Mountains. However, trees showing some Siberian Spruce characters extend as far west as much of northern Finland, with a few records in northeast Norway. The hybrid is known as Picea x fennica.
Norway Spruce shoots are orange-brown and glabrous (hairless). The leaves are needle-like, 12 - 24 mm long, quadrangular in cross-section (not flattened), and dark green on all four sides with inconspicuous stomatal lines.
The cones are 9 - 17 cm long (the longest of any spruce), and have triangular-pointed scale tips. They are green or reddish, maturing brown 5 - 7 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 4 - 5 mm long, with a pale brown 15 mm wing. The tallest measured tree, 63 m tall, has been in Perucica Virgin Forest, Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Cultivation and uses
Norway Spruce is one of the most widely planted spruces, both in and outside of its native range, used in forestry for timber and paper production, and as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It is also widely planted for use as a Christmas tree. It is naturalised in some parts of North America, though not so extensively as to be considered an invasive weed tree.
Several varieties are adapted for garden use.