17 Types of Spruce Trees and Shrubs With Identification Guide (Pictures)

Spruce trees are conifers with pointed needle leaves that are evergreen. Many dwarf spruces and spruce shrubs are suitable for garden landscapes, in addition to tall spruce trees that grow in coniferous forests.

The genus Picea contains 35 species of spruce trees. Other coniferous trees, such as pine, cedar, fir, and hemlock trees are related to these evergreen trees.

Common types of spruce trees: The Norwegian spruce, which is a popular Christmas tree, is the most well-known spruce tree. The Alberta spruce, White spruce, and Engelmann’s Spruce are other commonly planted spruce trees. For front or backyards, the Bird’s Nest Spruce is a tiny, low-growing landscaping plant.

Among the highest conifers found in evergreen forests are spruce trees. The Sitka spruce, for example, may grow to a height of more than 330 feet (100 meters). Dwarf spruce trees and low shrubs are perfect for establishing as specimen trees or an evergreen hedge in your yard, big or small.

Spruces live for over 200 years in their natural habitat, which is the cold and temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. You may expect your spruce shrubs or dwarf spruce trees to grow for up to 60 years if you place them in your backyard. The typical growth rate of most spruce trees is around 6″ to 11″ (15 to 29 cm) per year, and they grow slowly. The Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) are two additional species of spruce that grow considerably faster. These spruce trees grow at a rate of 3 feet (1 meter) each year.

The softwood tree category encompasses all coniferous tree species. Spruce wood, akin to soft pine, has a particularly gentle quality. Spruce wood, on the other hand, is of better quality and lasts longer than pine wood. The most common types of spruce trees will be discussed in this article. Pictures of spruces, as well as their scientific names, will help you identify the most common spruce trees.

Spruce Tree Identification

Spruce needles are depicted in this photograph. Spruce trees’ needles, which have four sides rather than the three sides of pine trees, may be recognized. Each needle is securely attached to the branch and can be rolled between your fingers with ease.

The cones of spruce trees, which are covered with smooth thin scales, are another way to identify them. The cones of spruce trees are rather easy to bend. Bushy branches point upwards on spruce trees.

Spruce Trees Vs. Pine Trees Vs. Fir Trees

Spruce needles are square and roll readily, unlike flat fir tree needles. Pine trees have needles that are long and soft, whereas spruce needles are short and stiff. Pine needles, from two to seven in each bunch, develop on branches. Individual needles develop on the branches of spruce trees, though.

The shape of a spruce tree may also be used to distinguish it from a pine tree. With full, bushy needle foliage, spruce tree branches tend to grow upwards. Pine trees, on the other hand, have a downward growth pattern and minimal foliage. In contrast to jaggy, sharp spruce needle-leaves, cedar trees and Douglas firs are soft to touch.

Types of Spruce Trees (With Pictures and Names)

Let’s explore the many sorts of majestic spruce trees in further depth.

Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

The Norway spruce tree is a quick-growing evergreen tree that may be found in many coniferous woodlands and belongs to the European spruce family. Norwegian spruce wood is high quality, making it ideal for furniture, paper, and the manufacturing of musical instruments. These spruce trees are ideal for living privacy screens, windbreaks, and hedges because of their thick foliage.

Spruce tree identification

Norway spruce trees have a pyramidal form and upward-growing branches that you can recognize. The blunt ends of the short green needle leaves. It has long, oblong seed cones. Norway spruces may grow to be as tall as 180 feet (55 meters). Dwarf and bearing spruce cultivars, on the other hand, only grow to a few feet tall.

White Spruce (Picea glauca)

White spruce is a common tree in the business world, and it thrives in Alaskan and Canadian winters, where it is extensively employed in the timber industry. This coniferous species is an important component of the timber industry and its wood is frequently employed in building. It is also known as the Alberta White spruce. var. Picea glauca A dwarf form of this magnificent spruce tree, albertiana ‘Conica,

Spruce tree identification

Scaly white bark, a narrow cylindrical crown, and lengthy needle-like leaves distinguish white spruce trees. The cones of this species are thin, not as lengthy as those of Norway spruce. White spruce trees reach a height of around 100 feet (30 meters).

Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

Due to its blue-green-gray colored needles, the blue spruce (left) creates a one-of-a-kind Christmas tree. The blue spruce conifer thrives in USDA zones 1 to 7 and is pictured on the right. It is a dwarf evergreen cold hardy tree. Spruce of this kind is common across North America.

The decorative appeal and pyramidal form of Colorado blue spruce trees are prized. The foliage of this spruce has a apparent blue tint to it, which is easy to see when viewing photos of it. The weeping Colorado spruce cultivar ‘The Blues’ is a great option if you’re looking for a weeping spruce tree for tiny to huge gardens.

Spruce tree identification

The waxy blue-green needle-like leaves of the Colorado blue spruce help to identify it. The botanical term “pungens” refers to the short spiky needles, which means “sharply pointed.” In woodlands, Colorado blue spruces may reach a height of 75 feet (23 meters), while in gardens, they may reach a height of 50 feet (15 meters).

Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika)

Serbian spruce is the left tree. The weeping Serbian spruce, Picea omorika ‘Pendula,’ can grow in a variety of conditions and tolerate some drought and shade. This tree is popular as a specimen tree in huge gardens or parks because of its tall, slender shape.

The Serbian species only grows to medium height when compared to tall spruces like the Norway and Sitka spruces. The dwarf tree Picea omorika ‘Nana’ or weeping spruce Picea omorika ‘Pendula’ are suitable for your garden landscape.

Spruce tree identification

The columnar growth habit of Serbian spruce trees makes it easy to identify. The pencil-like shape of the medium-sized tree grows to around 65 feet (20 meters) tall. Little, dark-green needle leaves, as well as short, spindle-shaped cones, create lush foliage.

Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

The black spruce is a coniferous tree in the Pinacaea family that grows more like a shrub and takes a long time to grow. Since its wood is soft and of poor quality, this slow-growing spruce isn’t particularly valuable in the timber industry. In Canada, Alaska, and the upper Northeast of the United States, spruce trees grow in damp, swampy areas.

Spruce tree identification

The little, stumpy purple cones are a distinguishing characteristic of black spruce. Its needle leaves are about half an inch (1.5 cm) broad and square. This species grows to around 15 to 50 feet (5 to 15 meters) tall as a small conifer. The trunk is covered in a thin, scaly grayish-brown bark.

Engelmann’s Spruce (Picea engelmannii)

A young Engelmann’s spruce may be seen in the left picture. Engelmann’s Spruce tree, named for botanist George Engelmann, is a mature spruce tree in the picture. On the northeast coast of North America, this slender, conical tree thrives at high elevations. This slow-growing evergreen conifer produces dense wood that is ideal for building and playing musical instruments. Its pyramid shape makes it a suitable Christmas tree because it is still immature.

Spruce tree identification

The cylindrical, narrow shape of these medium-sized spruce trees will help you identify them. The average height of Engelmann spruces is 100 feet (30 meters). In the thick spruce growth, graceful blue-green needles give way to swinging little conical brown cones. The needle leaves might grow to be 1.1 inch (3 cm) long.

Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)

Among the other 35 species in the genus Picea, Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is one of the tallest types of conifer trees. The fifth-largest conifer species is this spruce species. The enormous, broad crown and tiny branches lower than 100 feet (30 meters) characterize this massive evergreen. Rich soil is beneficial to these fast-growing conifers, which are prized for their timber.

Spruce tree identification

Sitka spruce trees are distinguished by their pointed needle-like leaves, which are roughly 1″ (2.5 cm) long and distinguish them from other species. The leaves are blue-green in color. The spruce is also identified by slender cones dangling from the branches, about 4 inches (10 cm) long. The scaly, flaking bark on the long, straight trunk makes it easy to remove.

Red Spruce (Picea rubens)

On Spruce Knob, West Virginia, a view of red spruce forest may be seen from the top of the observation tower. This species grows on the eastern coast of North America and is also known as the West Virginia spruce or yellow spruce. In its native environment, the spruce has a moderate growth rate and may survive for over 200 years.

The little red spruce is a conifer that is best as a Christmas tree because of its perfect pyramid shape. Its yellow wood is utilized to build buildings and make musical instruments.

Spruce tree identification

This spruce tree has thick foliage and little brown cones, as seen in the photos. Curved and pointy yellowish-green needles emerge from the bark. The gray-brown bark, which is red on the inside, is used to identify the West Virginia spruce. The red spruce is a 55 to 130 foot (18 to 40 meters) tall tree that may be found throughout the region.

Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

The Oriental or Caucasian spruce is an ornamental tree with attractive light-green needle leaves. In these photos, you can see Caucasian spruce trees on the left and tiny cultivars like Barnes and Nana on the right. It is a common tree for both lumber and paper production, and it grows slowly. Several cultivars, such as ‘Aureospicata,’ have spectacular gold-colored foliage. Look for ‘Barnes’ or ‘Nana’ types of spruce when using them in landscape gardens.

Spruce tree identification

The short needles of Caucasian spruce, which are only 0.3” (8 mm) long, are used to identify it. In the spring, the emerald-green leaves are brightened by the long slender cones that add red and purple hues. Caucasian spruce reaches heights of between 100 and 145 feet (30 and 45 meters).

Types of Spruce Shrubs and Dwarf Spruces

Most spruce trees are big, tall specimens that should not be planted in residential or garden gardens. A dwarf spruce tree or shrubby spruce are good options if you want to add more beauty to your home with evergreen conifers. You can trim a small spruce tree to regulate its height and it will look like a shrub. Let’s take a look at some great little spruce specimens.

Bird’s Nest Spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’)

The bird’s nest spruce is a tiny shrub that prefers to grow in pots or small gardens. It grows slowly and has a spherical form with a flat top. This is a Norway spruce cultivar, as the scientific name implies. It doesn’t develop into a tree, but rather stays as a tiny bush. It’s just a tiny fraction of the size of the bigger one. The rounded, bushy growth that resembles a bird’s nest in the center gives it its popular name. As a specimen plant or a short evergreen hedge, plant it in rock gardens.

Spruce tree identification

This low-growing spruce shrub is distinguished by its spherical form and flat top. The blunt needles on the shrubby bush grow to about an inch (2.5 cm) long. After many years, the plant may only reach a height of 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters).

Weeping Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pendula’)

The weeping Norway spruce is a drooping spruce tree that grows in cold climates. Its pendulous branches have up to 9″ (22 cm) long cones, which are extremely long. The branches must dangle down until they reach the ground, and the main stem requires support. In full sun, you may also grow this species of spruce as a groundcover plant.

Spruce tree identification

This weeping tree species is distinguished by its pendulous branches and spiky green leaves. The weeping Norway spruce can grow to a height of 10 to 15 feet (3.5 to 4.5 meters) if cared for properly.

Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’)

Dwarf Norway spruce ‘Pumila’ is more of a low-growing shrub than a tiny evergreen tree, making it a great option for smaller garden landscapes. With a flat top, the thick foliage gives birth to a striking evergreen bush. These slow-growing specimen plants adapt to most soils and thrive in full sun. Compact growth and bright-green foliage are the most attractive features of this spruce.

Spruce tree identification

The Norway spruce-like foliage is found on the dwarf shrub. This little cultivar only reaches a height of 4 feet (1.2 meters). It will, however, take a few years to reach maturity due to its fast growing rate of approximately 5 inches (12 cm) per year.

Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Conica’)

The dwarf Norway spruce “Conica” is one of the most commonly sold dwarf conifers for compact areas. It has luscious green leaves made up of green needles and is pyramidal in shape. The dwarf Norway spruce is a good hedge plant, specimen tree, and foundation planting because of its upright tree growth, bushy foliage, and conical shape.

Spruce tree identification

The densely packed, bright green leaves and conical form of dwarf Norway spruce distinguish it. The spruce tree is a slow-growing variety.


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