Picea abies 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Picea abies (L.) H.Karst.
Common Name(s):
English Norway Spruce
French Epicéa commun
Pinus abies L.
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: Two varieties are recognized: the typical variety is found almost throughout the range of the species. Picea abies var. acuminata Dallim. & A.B. Jacks. co-occurs within the range of the typical variety and only differs in the size of the cone and shape of the seed scale; it has a more limited distribution in the Jura, Alps, Carpathian Mts., southern Norway, and Sweden. Neither taxon is regarded as threatened and hence they are not assessed separately.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2015-09-18
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Allen, D.J. & Thomas, P.
Global and European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 28 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

Picea abies is the most abundant, if not widespread conifer in Europe. As such, it is assessed as Least Concern at both the global and EU28 members states levels.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Recorded from central Europe (on mountains), northern and eastern Europe, eastward to the Ural Mountains, where the species merges with P. obovata. The extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are both in excess of the thresholds for a threatened category. The tree is considered endemic to Europe. The variety acuminata co-occurs within the range of the typical variety but has a more limited distribution in the Jura, Alps, and Carpathian mountains, and in southern Norway and in Sweden.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France (France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Montenegro; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation (Central European Russia, East European Russia, European Russia, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine (Ukraine (main part))
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):1
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population is thought to be stable.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Picea abies is widespread and dominant in Boreal conifer forests of northern and northeastern Europe, where it replaces Pinus sylvestris on wetter sites because Picea abies can avoid the water table with a very shallow root system. Occurs from sea level up to 2,000 m.

The natural distribution shows continental tendencies but in the western mountains of Central Europe an ecotype has evolved that is adapted to sub-Atlantic weather conditions with heavy 'wet' snowfall in early winter. Its inability to compete with more shade tolerant Abies alba and Fagus sylvatica as well as historical factors have limited its natural expansion into western Europe. In the Alps Picea abies occupies the montane to subalpine zones (dependent on local climate) especially on moist sites and in cold air pockets. Although it can occur on most substrates, acidic soils are most common and widespread as is testified by the undergrowth, if present, of ericaceous shrubs and sub-shrubs.

Commonly growing with Picea abies in the Boreal forests are Betula sp. and Populus tremula, with willows (Salix) alongside streams and lakes. In the Alps Picea abies occurs with Larix decidua, Pinus cembra, and P. sylvestris or P. nigra, if not in pure stands. In eastern Europe, Picea abies is a constituent of mixed conifer-broad-leaved woodland from the Białowieża  Forest in the north to the valleys of the eastern Alps and the Carpathians.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):40

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Norway Spruce is an important timber tree in Europe, where outside the Boreal forest zone most commercial timber is now harvested from plantations or from managed forests in which other trees are suppressed. Forestry has expanded the range of this species considerably further west.

The wood is used for pulpwood as well as construction, furniture (most of the popular 'pine' furniture is made with wood from Norway Spruce), and special uses like the sound boards of pianos and the bodies of guitars and violins. The famous Stradivarius violins were made with wood of Norway Spruce from the Alps. In Europe this species is the most popular Christmas tree, a tradition that actually started in Germany, with the extensive afforestation beginning in the 18th Century. Norway Spruce is not much planted as an amenity tree, but in horticulture more than 200 cultivars have been selected, with different habits including 'weeping', prostrate and dwarf forms, red, white or yellow flushing leaf forms, and (other) monstrosities.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No specific range wide threats have been identified for this species or either of its varieties.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Norway Spruce is present in numerous protected areas throughout its range.

Neither the typical variety nor Picea abies var. acuminata have been formally assessed, but neither are considered threatened.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2017. Picea abies. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T42318A71233492. . Downloaded on 21 May 2018.
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