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Oriental spruce

Needles of oriental spruce.

Oriental spruce can reach a height of 50 to 60 feet with a spread of 15 to 25 feet. The delicate texture of the small needles and graceful habit make this a good choice for the home landscape.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Picea orientalis

All common names:

oriental spruce, Caucasian spruce

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Screen,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

50-60 feet

Mature Width:

15-25 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Intolerant of pollution,
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Browsers,
  • Nesting birds,
  • Songbirds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun, adaptable to many soil types as long as they are moist and well-drained.
The shallow, spreading root system benefits from a 3-4” layer of organic mulch.
Spruces require very little pruning.
All evergreens experience seasonal needle fall in autumn.  On spruces this shows up as brown needles on the interior of the tree.

Disease, pests, and problems

Needle cast, cankers, bagworms and mites are possible problems.

Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis)
Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis)
photo: John Hagstrom

Native geographic location and habitat

Found natively in the mountains of the Caucasus.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is brown and may peel as the tree ages.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Short, dark green, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long needles attached singly to the stem.  Needles are 4-sided with a blunt tip.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Cones are on short stalks found at the ends of branches, mature cones are cylindrical; 2 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Cone scales have smooth margins. The cones start out reddish purple, changing to brown at maturity.

Cultivars and their differences

Gowdy oriental spruce (Picea orientalis 'Gowdy'):  This is a narrow, slow-growing cultivar.

Skylands oriental spruce (Picea orientalis 'Skylands'):  New foliage emerges yellow and contrasts with the darker green inner foliage.  Color will fade in summer and needles may burn in hot climates.

Location of Picea orientalis (Oriental spruce) at the Arboretum