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Picea orientalis

(Oriental spruce)

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Picea orientalis, first described in 1847 by (Carolus Linnæus), Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link (1767–1851) in Linnaea vol. 20; is commonly known as Oriental spruce, or Caucasian spruce; as well as Ель восточная in the Russian language, and Doğu ladini in Turkish. It is the native spruce of Caucasus and Pontic mountains, the old Orient (“east” in the Latin language), hence the species name.

It makes for an extremely attractive tree, with its shiny dark-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 (P. abies). It will thrive on a wide range of sites.

Description. Oriental spruce is an evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 125 feet (40 m); with a trunk up to 6 feet (2 m) in diameter, measuring at breast height; and a crown that is narrowly conic, and open in whorls of young trees, and columnar with a broad, dense conic top in old trees.

  • Bark is smooth, pink-gray in color, later cracked into small rounded plates.
  • Shoots are (glabrous) hairy, colored orange-brown, becoming gray-brown with age.
  • Foliar buds are ovoid-conical in shape, measuring 0.16 inch, (4 mm) long and are not resinous.
  • Leaves (needles) are more-or-less radial about the stem, oriented forward toward the tip, parted below on weaker shoots, only slightly flattened in cross-section. They have blunt tips, colored glossy very-deep green, and are very short, only 0.24 to 0.32 inch (6 -8 mm) long.
  • Pollen cones are bright deep red in color, measuring 0.4 to 0.8 inch (10 – 20 mm) long.
  • Seed cones are ovoid-conically shaped, pointed, colored dark purple when young, ripening brown, each measuring 2.4 to 4 inches (6 – 10cm) long.
  • Seeds are are 0.12 to 1.18 inch (3 – 4.5 mm) long with an attached wing, 0.24 to 0.36 inch to (6 – 9 mm) longer.
natural range of Picea orientalis

Distribution. This species is native to the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and north-eastern Turkey, where it forms pure stands or mixed with other conifers and hardwoods, often dominating on moist, shaded slopes or ravines at elevations of 3,200 to 6,500 feet (1,000 – 2,100 m) above sea level.

Hardy to USDA Zone 5 — cold hardiness limit between -20° and -10°F (-28.8° and -23.3°C).



Attributed from: Rushforth, Keith: Conifers (1987); First published in the United States in 1987 by Facts On File, Inc., 460 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10016; ISBN: 0-8160-1735-2. Rare & out of print.

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