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Picea orientalis

(Oriental spruce; Caucasian spruce)

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Tree to 40m. Crown of young trees narrow conic, open in whorls, in old trees columnar with a conic top, not narrow, dense. Bark smooth pink-grey, later cracked into small rounded plates. Shoot hairy, orange-brown, becoming grey-brown. Bud ovoid-conic, 0.4cm. Leaves more or less radial, forwards, parted below on weaker shoots, only slightly flattened in cross-section, blunt, shiny deep green, very short, 0.6-0.8cm. Male cones bright deep red. Female cones ovoid-conic, pointed, dark purple, ripening brown, 6-10cm. Zone 5. (Rushforth, Keith)

Caucasian spruce is found in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and north-eastern Turkey. It makes an extremely attractive tree, in the shiny green very short needles, the bright red male cones in late April or early May and the columnar habit. It deserves much wider planting, and has the grace and charm so palpably missing from Norway spruce. It will thrive on a wide range of sites.

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