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Edible uses


Young male catkins - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring[1].

Immature female cones - cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy[1]. Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread[1]. An emergency food, used when all else fails. Seed - raw. Rich in oil and with a pleasant slightly resinous flavour, but too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are desperate[1].

A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips[1]. These tips are also used in making spruce beer[2].


Inner bark

Unknown part


Material uses

The tree is a source of pitch (Burgundy pitch) and turpentine (Jura turpentine)[3][4][5][6]. Burgundy pitch is used as a varnish and in medicinal plasters[7]. It is a strong adhesive[8][6]. The turpentine is a waterproofer and wood preservative. They are obtained by incisions in the trunk, the resin is scraped out some months later[6].

An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery[5][8]. The seed contains 30% of a fatty oil, this is used in the production of a varnish[9]. The bark contains some tannin[10]. Both the bark and bark extract have been widely used in Europe as a source of tannin, the bark containing up to 13% tannin[11]. Yields of tannin have been doubled by heating or steaming the bark as soon as possible after the tree has been felled[11]. A fairly wind resistant tree and fast growing, it can be planted in shelterbelts to provide protection from the wind[12]. The dwarf cultivar 'Inversa' can be grown as a ground cover plant in a sunny position[13]. The cultivars 'Reflexa' and 'Procumbens' can also be used[14]. They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way[14].

Wood - medium hard, fairly elastic, durable under water, light in weight and colour. Used for general carpentry, joinery, musical instruments etc. Valued for its use in the pulp industry to make paper[3][15][16][5][17].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The buds, leaves and resin are antibiotic, antiseptic, balsamic, expectorant, sedative[4]. A pitch, or resin, obtained from the trunk is rubefacient and stimulant[18]. It is used externally in plasters etc for its healing and antiseptic properties[4]. A poultice of the sap or gum has been used in the treatment of boil and abscess pain[19].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy or Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover



Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - stratification will probably improve germination so sow fresh seed in the autumn in a cold frame if possible[20]. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible in a cold frame[21]. A position in light shade is probably best[21]. Seed should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a cool place[20]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year, or be placed in an outdoor nursery bed for a year or so to increase in size. They might need protection from spring frosts.

Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, August in a frame. Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring[21]. Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 - 10cm long, September/October in a cold frame. Takes 12 months[21].

Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but sure.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Picea abies. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Likes abundant moisture at the roots, if grown in drier areas it must be given a deep moist soil[15]. Succeeds in most soils including those that are wet cold and shallow, but it is not very wind-firm in shallow soils[3]. Intolerant of chalky or poor acid soils[15]. Tolerates poor peaty soils[12]. Prefers a pH between 4 to 6[12]. Dislikes shade[12] according to one report whilst another says that it is moderately shade tolerant[22]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[15]. Resists wind exposure to some degree and is tolerant of saline winds[12].

A very cold-hardy tree when fully dormant, though the young shoots are subject to injury by late frosts[3], though less so than P. sitchensis[22]. A fast growing tree, it is widely planted in cool temperate zones for its wood[12]. Young trees often grow 1 metre or more a year and can sustain an average of 60cm for at least the first 60 years though growth tails off as they grow older[23]. Probably not that long-lived in Britain, about 200 years seems the absolute maximum[23]. In some upland areas, especially over granitic or other base-poor soils, growth rate and health have been seriously affected by aluminium poisoning induced by 'acid rain' pollution[12]. There are many named varieties, almost all of them dwarf forms[12]. A food plant for many caterpillars[24]. A very aggressive tree, it is hostile to other trees[25]. Susceptible to attacks by bark beetles so it should be kept away from more valuable trees. A biological control is being introduced (1983)[22]. This species is susceptible to honey fungus[26]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[12]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[12]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[12]. The seed is shed in spring[3], the cones release their seed whilst they are still on the tree[26].

The bruised leaves emit a delicious musky smell[27].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Picea abies. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Picea abies.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Picea abies
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:Picea abies1.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Picea abies1.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Picea abies1.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  2. ? 2.02.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  3. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  4. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  5. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  6. ? Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins. Faber ()
  7. ? 7.07.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
  8. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  11. ? Rottsieper. E.H.W. Vegetable Tannins The Forestal Land, Timber and Railways Co. Ltd. (1946-00-00)
  12. ? 12.0012.0112.0212.0312.0412.0512.0612.0712.0812.0912.1012.1112.12 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  14. ? Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
  15. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Freethy. R. From Agar to Zenery. The Crowood Press ISBN 0-946284-51-2 (1985-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books ISBN 0-901361-21-6 (1985-00-00)
  21. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  22. ? ? The Plantsman. Vol. 5. 1983 - 1984. Royal Horticultural Society (1983-00-00)
  23. ? 23.023.1 Mitchell. A. F. Conifers in the British Isles. HMSO ISBN 0-11-710012-9 (1975-00-00)
  24. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)
  25. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
  26. ? 26.026.1 Rushforth. K. Conifers. Christopher Helm ISBN 0-7470-2801-X (1987-00-00)
  27. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)

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Facts about "Picea abies"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyPinaceae +
Belongs to genusPicea +
Functions asGround cover + and Windbreak +
Has binomial namePicea abies +
Has common nameNorway Spruce +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partFlowers +, Inner bark +, Seed + and Unknown part +
Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure + and High wind +
Has fertility typeWind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateVigorous +
Has hardiness zone4 +
Has imagePicea abies1.JPG +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useAdhesive +, Essential +, Pitch +, Tannin +, Varnish + and Wood +
Has mature height30 +
Has mature width10 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntibiotic +, Antiseptic +, Balsamic +, Expectorant +, Poultice + and Sedative +
Has primary imagePicea abies1.JPG +
Has search namepicea abies + and norway spruce +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid + and Neutral +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy namePicea abies +
Has water requirementshigh +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy + and Soil surface +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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