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Serbian spruce

Needles of Serbian spruce.

Tall and slender, with graceful upswept branches, the Serbian spruce is an elegant evergreen tree as a specimen in the landscape. It has glossy dark green needles with slender streaks of white and distinctive purple cones. It is a threatened species in its native Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, where it has only a few patches of habitat left, but is an adaptable, drought tolerant tree in the Midwest.

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


Botanical name:

Picea omorika

All common names:

Serbian 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:

  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

50-60 feet

Mature Width:

20-25 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


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Intolerant of pollution

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:

  • Narrow,
  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Browsers,
  • Nesting birds,
  • Songbirds

More Information:

Serbian spruce (Picea omorika)
Serbian spruce (Picea omorika)
photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

Best in moist, well-drained, organic soils, pH adaptable.
One of the more adaptable spruce to urban environments.
Grows best when sheltered from strong winds.

Disease, pest, and problems

Aphids and borers are possible problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Southeastern Europe, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina.

Bark color and texture 

Mature trees are dark brown in color with thin, peeling platelets.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Dark green needles are 1/2 to 1 inch long, with 4 distinct white bands, needles tend to point forward and overlap.
Branches are pendulous and cascading.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Mature cones  hang from tips of branches, 11/2  to 2 inches long, they start out purple, turning to a reddish brown at maturity.

Cultivars and their differences

Dwarf Serbian spruce (Picea omorika 'Nana'):  A dwarf cultivar growing 8 to 10 feet high.  Shape is conical to globose.

Sky Trails Serbian spruce (Picea omorika 'Sky Trails'):  Blue-green needles with contrasting white bands underneath; weeping habit.

Location of Picea omorika (Serbian spruce) at the Arboretum