Picea omorika / Serbian spruce

Picea omorika, as described in 1877 by Emanuel von Purkyně (1832–1882), in Österreichische Monatsschrift für Forstwesen, 27th edition, is commonly known as Serbian spruce; as well as Панчићева оморика (Pančićeva omorika) in the Serbian language; as Ель сербская in Russian; Serbische fichte in German; èpicea de Serbie in French; or picea di Serbia in Italian. The species name simply translates into generic "spruce" in the Serbian language.

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Description. Serbian spruce is an evergreen coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 165 feet (50 m) tall with a narrowly pyramidal crown and straight trunk up to 3 feet (1 m) wide, measured at breast height.

  • Bark is thin and red-brown in color.
  • First-order branches are short; less than 6 feet (2 m) long. They are somewhat pendant, curling up somewhat at the ends. This is a distinctive feature of this species.
  • Leaves (needles) measure 0.32 to 1.6 inches (8 - 20 mm ) long and up to 0.08 inch (2 mm) thick; each is dark green in color on the adaxial (upper) side, with 2 white stomatal lines on the abaxial (lower) side. Needle tips are blunt to slighted pointed.
  • Pollen cones are light red in color, measuring 0.8 to 1 inch (20 - 25 mm) long. Flowering takes place from the end of April into June, depending on habitat.
  • Seed cones are pendant and about 2 inches (5 - 6 cm) long, young seed cones are colored violet-red-brown, ripening in October and November.
  • Seed scales are fan-shaped to circular, thin, but woody and stiff.
  • Seeds are 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2 - 3 mm) long, with a wing 0.2 to 0.32 inch (5 - 8 mm) longer.
Map in Wikipedia the public domain by Giovanni Caudullo, Italy
Map in Wikipedia the public domain by Giovanni Caudullo, Italy

Distribution. This species is native to western Serbia and eastern Bosnia in a small area around the Drina river, on the following mountains: Tara, Zvijezda, Viogor, Radomišlja, Jadovnik. This species was widespread in Europe millions of years ago (known by fossilized remains), but after Pleistocene glaciation it survived only in this small area. It is found on chiefly calcareous soils at elevations of 1,380 to 5,500 feet (400 - 1,700 m) above sea level, usually on steep north-facing slopes.

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

Attribution from: Branislav Jovanoviæ; "Picea omorika," in Flora Srbije; ©1986, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade.

Picea omorika — Green Industry Images, copyrighted photograph; permission granted.
Photo by Ernie Wiegand
Picea omorika — photo courtesy of the Wildlife and Conifer Garden; donated by Don and Nonda Surratt, Ohio, USA.
Photo by Nonda Surratt
Picea omorika — needle undersides; photo courtesy of the Wildlife and Conifer Garden; donated by Don and Nonda Surratt, Ohio, USA.
Photo by Nonda Surratt
Picea omorika— mature trees at Vandusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— flat, blunt needles unlike many spruce
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— light underside of needles
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— close-up of needles
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— semi-pointed buds
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— needles mounted on short stems characteristic of the spruces
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— an amazing crop of cones
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— maturing cones in early summer
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— maturing cone with resin on the outside
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Picea omorika— mature cones in the process of dispersing their seeds in late fall
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca

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