Spruce trees are from a genus of coniferous evergreen trees called Picea. They are commonly found in the coniferous forests of the Northern Hemisphere and are highly diverse in Asian regions. According to studies, the Picea genus includes 37 species. These trees are known for their tall conical shape. The world’s largest spruce tree grows at about 191 feet tall and has a diameter of 18 feet and 9 inches.
Coniferous forests are home to many birds, such as woodpeckers, warblers, hawks, and owls. They are also home to other mammals such as squirrels, martens, moose, reindeer, lynx, and wolves.
Spruce trees have many purposes. They can be used for landscaping, construction, and interior design. Spruce trees can also be turned into Christmas trees. But with 37 species available, which plant is suitable for your needs? Here is a detailed comparison between Norway spruce vs. blue spruce.
Comparing Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce
|Norway Spruce||Blue Spruce|
Species: Picea abies
Species: Picea pungens
|Plant Type||Evergreen coniferous tree||Evergreen coniferous tree|
|Origin and Distribution||Europe||North America|
|Size||Height: 115 to 180 ft (35 to 55 m)||Height: Up to 135 ft (41 m)|
|Growth rate||Moderate to fast||Slow to moderate|
|Habitat||Coniferous forests||Coniferous forests|
|Hardiness Zone||Hardiness Zones 3–7||Hardiness Zones 2–7|
|Elevation Limit (Distance above sea level)||Upper elevation limit: 6,561 feet (2,000 meters)|
Lower elevation limit: 3.3 feet (1 m)
|Upper elevation limit: 10,826 feet (3,300 meters)|
Lower elevation limit: 5,906 feet (1,800 meters)
The Key Differences Between Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce
Norway spruce, the fastest-growing spruce tree, has elegant-looking branches covered by dark green needles. Blue spruce has a sophisticated blue-green shade. Aside from the color of their needles, other attributes differentiate them. Here are eight key differences between the Norway spruce and the blue spruce.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Classification
Spruce trees are known for their tall, pyramid-like form, but there are different Picea species in various regions, leading to several anatomical differences. Norway spruce and blue spruce are related to each other because they are from the same genus but different species. Norway spruce is scientifically named Picea abies, while blue spruce is scientifically called Picea pungens.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Origin and Distribution
Norway spruce trees do grow in Norway. However, the name can be misleading because this species isn’t native to Norway. Norway spruce trees were spread throughout Eurasia long before reaching Norway. Other sources also claim that Norway spruce trees are native to the European Alps.
Records show that the long-lived blue spruce trees were first discovered in 1862 on top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. They are native to the Rocky Mountains that stretch through Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Other sources also show that blue spruce trees naturally grow in Arizona and north-central Montana.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Hardiness Zone
The Hardiness Zone Map is a standard map consisting of 13 geographic zones that contain relevant information indicating whether a plant will or will not survive in a specific location. It was last updated in 2012 by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The hardiness zones register slight changes each year. Existing trees and plants in your yard will most likely continue to thrive even when the hardiness zone changes slightly. If you are new to gardening or wondering which tree is suitable for a location, it is best to consult this map. The hardiness zone map is based on the average annual minimum temperature from the past 30 years. According to sources, Norway spruce trees are expected to grow in Zones 3 to 7, while blue spruce trees thrive in Zones 2 to 7.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Size
Native Norway spruce trees mature at 60 feet but grow up to 115 to 180 feet (35 to 55 m). The tallest Norway Spruce tree is about 205.7 feet (62.7 m) tall and can be found in Slovenia. Blue spruce trees are considered mature at about 70 to 80 feet tall. In the wild, they can grow up to 135 feet.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Needles (Leaves)
Norway spruce tree branches grow in an upward curve, but the lower branches of an older tree may bend downwards. They are covered with dark green needle-like leaves, roughly 0.5 – 1 inch (1.5 – 2.5 centimeters) long. Norway spruce needles have a spiral form.
Blue spruce trees have smooth, silver, blue-green needles surrounding their branches in a spiral formation. The unique bluish color is attributed to the powdery white substance that forms on fresh needles. Some sources show that the elegant blue-green color of its needles is linked to wax covering the plant cuticles. Blue spruce trees have firm, sharp needles about 1 to 1.5 inches long.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Cones
Spruce trees are monoecious plants, which means they produce male and female strobili on the same tree. These are commonly known as cones.
According to studies, immature female cones of Norway spruce trees vary between soft rose-pink and deep burgundy. They usually sit upright on the upper branches. Male strobili are smaller and yellowish. These trees are wind pollinated, so this positioning allows the wind to carry pollen from the male cones up to the female strobili. Once the cones are fertilized, they gradually turn downward.
A young male blue spruce cone is reddish when it first emerges from a bud but gradually turns yellowish brown when it matures. Male cones are found throughout the tree. Female strobili, the seed-bearing cones, are purple and typically found at the top of the tree. Fertilized female cones turn to a light brown shape and are about 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm).
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Growth Rate
Norway Spruce is the fastest-growing spruce tree, adding to its height by 24 inches annually. Other sources say it can grow up to 36 inches a year. On the other hand, blue spruce grows at a slow to medium rate. This means it grows between less than 12 inches (30 cm) or up to 24 inches (30 cm) annually.
Norway Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: Uses
Norway spruce trees serve for interior design, flooring, and structural uses. The lumber produced from these trees is also known as the “white deal” because of its almost white color. Other sources say it is also used to produce certain violin parts. It is also a good material for paper production. Its twigs are processed to create spruce beers.
Blue spruce trees are used as ornamental trees in landscaping because they are great windbreakers. They are most popular during the winter holidays thanks to their elegant colors and shapes. Blue spruce trees are a perfect choice for the Christmas tree. Blue spruce twigs are used as a good luck charm. Some American native tribes also use this tree’s needles for medicinal purposes.
- Discover the 11 Different Types of Spruce Trees
- Black Hills Spruce vs. Norway Spruce: What’s the Difference?
- White Spruce vs. Blue Spruce: What’s the Difference?
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jovana Pantovic/Shutterstock.com
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- , Available here: https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/volume_1/picea/pungens.htm
- Arbor Day Foundation, Available here: https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=924
- Yale Nature Walk, Available here: https://naturewalk.yale.edu/trees/pinaceae/picea-abies/norway-spruce-92