Picea abies 'Hystrix' / Hystrix Norway spruce

Picea abies 'Hystrix' is a slow-growing, irregular globose selection of Norway spruce that, with age, assumes more of a pyramidal shape. Branching is fairly dense with short stubby branchlets. Needles are thin, stiff, radially arranged, and medium green in color. After 10 years of growth, a mature plant will measure 12 to 16 inches (30 - 40 cm) tall and wide, an annual growth rate of 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3 - 4 cm).

This cultivar's origin and history is fraught with confusion. It first came to Murray Hornibrook from Germany with the name, P. abies var. echiniformis, which it clearly isn't. Plants grown under this cultivar name in the U.S. are openly pyramidal in structure and allegedly derived from a witch's broom found in the 1990s. Plants being cultivated in eastern Europe seem to be truest to form and probably the correct plant. In the Latin language, "hystrix" translates into "bristly or porcupine-like."

Picea abies 'Hystrix' — a fairly old specimen in a nursery stock yard in Russia.
Photo by Vnukovo Nursery
Picea abies 'Hystrix' — young plants have an distinctive and interesting, clumpy appearance.
Photo by Cieplucha nursey, Poland
Picea abies 'Hystrix' — a mature specimen in a nursery stock yard in Russia.
Photo by Europlant nursery
Picea abies 'Hystrix' — a closeup of foliage detail. Plants offered in the U.S. appear to much more open and upright in structure.
Photo by Buchholz Nursery, Inc.