The Norway spruce is a fast-growing, large evergreen tree. The tree has a wide base, and the shape tapers at the top like a cone. This evergreen is native to Europe and has been planted widely throughout the United States and in southeastern Canada. The tree ranges in height from 80 to 100 feet. The leaves are flexible and needle-like, and hang downward from the branches. Its pine cones are cylindrical in shape and light brown in color. The Norway spruce is planted for its decorative appeal, use as a valuable landscape plant and for timber. In the wild, the Norway spruce is home to birds and small animals, and its seedlings and bark are important as a food source.
Landscape and Decorative Uses
The Norway spruce is resistant to pollution. Along with its specialty cultivars---both dwarf and weeping---the tree is used as a specimen tree in landscaping projects, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The Norway spruce and its cultivars are also planted as windbreaks, snowbreaks and screening plants. Adaptable to poor soils, the tree is widely planted in reforestation projects, and its roots are used to graft white spruce.
The Norway spruce is often used as a Christmas tree, although it tends to drop its needles when cut. A Norway spruce is placed in Rockefeller Center in New York City every December as the center's famous Christmas tree.
Timber and Resin
Norway spruce is widely cultivated for its timber, in both the United States and in Europe, particularly Scandinavia. The wood is strong, straight and fine-grained, according to United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Norway spruce wood is easily worked and used for pulp, framing in construction projects, furniture, boxes, packing cases, construction joinery, chipboard and to create musical instruments, specifically stringed instruments like violins. The twigs and needles of the Norway spruce have been used to make diuretics and antiscorbutics, a treatment for scurvy.
The resin from the tree is used for Burgundy pitch, which was made to coat rope, iron and canvas, and to caulk the seams of wooden ships. Pitch is still used to make candles, for incense, as an herbal remedy to treat muscular conditions, as a decongestant and as a topical antibacterial.
Food and Shelter
The Norway spruce provides both shelter and food for animals. Hawks, spruce grouses and owls in the United States, and grackles and goldcrests in Europe all nest in and feed on the tree. Although the Norway spruce is deer-resistant, these animals will eat the tree when starving. Norway spruce seedlings are also eaten by livestock, rabbits and mice. Rodents are a concern, especially when there is abundant grass cover, according to North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.