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Friday, May 3, 2013

Picea abies - Norway spruce

In the Santa Cruz area the Norway spruce can be seen as an old school conifer and will likely be pretty large because they are not planted much anymore. (You might see a weeping form but I will save those for another day). The Norway spruce is a large upright conical evergreen conifer with strongly ascending lateral branches. The secondary scaffold branched (the smaller ones coming off the main branches) are very pendulous and remind me of a leather jacket with fringe. The trees can be very rigid or quite very graceful. Usually formal and stiff when young. Usually 40-60' but may reach 100'.

The evergreen leaves are linear 3/4" - 1" long, quadrangular in cross section, dark green and leaning more or less forward on the stem. Mostly on top of the branch. Leaf tips are pointed but not really sharp.

Stems are orange-brown, grooved and glabrous. Notice the brown leaf base, its called a pulvinus, and when leaves fall off spruce trees the pulvinus remains leaving a rough stem. This is a great identification feature for spruces.

Female reproductive structures are red and held upright. When the cones mature they droop. (Firs remain upright)

Immature but pollinated female.

Mature reproductive cones are woody, 4-6" long, light brown, with scales that have a flat notch at the tip.

Misidentification: Looking at the habit it might look like a doug fir but not really. The leaves of many spruce trees look similar but we dont have many spruce trees here.

Aptos at Wisteria Nursery on Soquel just up from Park.

Santa Cruz
Sea Bright Ave 1717 is a classic old one.
236 San Juan Ave

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