Picea omorika 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Picea omorika
Species Authority: (Pančić) Purk.
Common Name(s):
English Serbian Spruce
Pinus omorika Pančić
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: A very distinctive species that has in the past been confused with Picea abies due to the use of the same vernacular name. The word ‘Omorika’ is common in Bosnian and Serbian folklore where it symbolize slenderness (Novak 1927). Picea abies, which also can have a very slender habit, often grows with P. omorika and the word ‘Omorika’ has been applied to both species in the past.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-06-07
Assessor(s): Mataruga, M., Isajev, D., Gardner, M., Christian, T. & Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Luscombe, D & Farjon, A.

The extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be  4,076 km² and Picea omorika is restricted to fewer than five locations. Recent fieldwork indicates that there is a continuing (albeit slow) decline in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, quality of habitat and number of mature individuals in some locations. This is primarily due to poor regeneration and an inability to compete with associated tree species. 

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Picea omorika is restricted to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are four locations: i) the Tara National Park in Serbia and the almost adjacent areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina between Višegrade and Srebrenica; ii) Viogor (Čajniče Municipality) in Bosnia and Herzegovina; iii) Radomišlje (Foča Municipality) in Bosnia and Hercegovina; iv) Ravnište-Kanjon Mileševke (Municipalty of Prijepolje) in Serbia.
Countries occurrence:
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Serbia (Serbia, Serbia)
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:4076
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:4Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):800
Upper elevation limit (metres):1500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Bosnia and Herzegovina

Confined to the eastern part of the country in Republika Srpska close to the Drina River. It occurs in three regions – Region Foča (Municipalities - Višegrad, Čajniče, Foča)  Region Vlasenica (Municipalties - Srebrenica,  Milići) and Region, Sarajevo-Romanija (Municipality – Rogatica). There are 14 confirmed sites within Republica Srpska. These are (names followed by km²/no. individuals): Višegrad Municipality: Veliki Stolac (0.3/3,000); Karaula Štula (00.1/100); Gostilja (0.258/1,000); Tovarnica (0.02/?).  Čajniče Municipality : Viogor (0.1/150). Foča Municipality: Radomišlje (0.027/100). Srebrenica Municipality: Šarena Bukva (0.005/20); Strugovi (0.1/100). Milići Municipality: Crkvice-Tijesnido (0.014/100). Rogatica Municipality: Suvi Dol (0.1/2,000; Baba (0.03/1000; Panjak (0.005/20); Novo Brdo (0.005/200).

These sites represent three distinct locations. The largest cluster of sites (ca 12) is in an area ca 40 x 20 km² between Višegrade and Srebrenica and is contiguous with the main location in Serbia. The second is about 25 km south at Viogor (Čajniče Municipality) while the third is another 60 km southwest at Radomišlje (Foča Municipality).


In Serbia it occurs in 11 different sites forming two distinct locations. Ten sites are in the Municipality of Bajina Bašta in the Tara National Park (Site name/no. of trees): Bilo, 4,192; Lutibreg, 319; Crvene Stene,3,000; Studenac, 763; Pod Gorušicom, 1; Zvijezda, 50,000; Vranjak (locus classicus), 442; Karaula Štula, 374; Crveni Potok, 6; Zmajevački Potok, 797. The eleventh site is at Ravnište-Kanjon Mileševke (Municipalty of Prijepolje), about 75 km from the southern most point of the main area. Here, there are about 300 individuals.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:68000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Bosnia and Herzegovina
Picea omorika occurs on steep north to northwest facing limestone slopes (sometimes precipitous) which overlay igneous material. The altitudinal limits are from 800-1,450 m. Depending on the altitude and slope, the associated tree species can include Abies alba, Picea abies, Pinus nigra, Fagus sylvatica, Populus tremula, Sorbus aucuparia, S. aria, Quercus spp and Ostrya carpinifolia. Sometimes it can occur as the dominant species within the forest, and at higher altitude on rocky outcrops it is co-dominant with Pinus nigra. On steep slopes at high altitudes it is co-dominant with Picea abies and Pinus nigra while on steep slopes at lower elevations it is co-dominant with Fagus sylvatica.

The sites at Bilo, Lutibreg, Crvene Stene, Studenac, Pod Gorušicom, Zvijezda, Vranjak and  Karaula Štula.Most sites are on limestone. The main associated species are Picea abies, Abies alba and Fagus sylvatica. It can also occur with Pinus nigra, P. sylvestris, Carpinus betulus and Acer platanoides. Sometimes it forms almost pure stands. The Crveni Potok site is on peatland while the Zmajevački Potok site is on serpentine soils that are derived from ultramafic rocks.  In Serbia it has an altitudinal range between 1,000-1,500 m, mainly on very steep north-facing slopes.

Male cones mature in May. Female cones mature in September-October but mostly remain closed until the following May-June: they may persist for up to five years. Typically  a good coning year is usually followed by a poor one. Post fire regeneration is usually very good although limited to steep slopes and cliffs. The climate is characterized by very high humidity, high precipitation regularly distributed over the year, high snow cover, and low winter temperatures.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Historically the inaccessibility of many of the stands has limited its utilisation, particulary in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today seed collections are often made for commercial forestry.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Until the middle of the 19th century the natural range of P. omorika was more continuous and less disjunct than it is today. Its current fragmented distribution is mainly the result of anthropogenic factors such as general forest clearing and cutting, pastoralism and wildfires. Fire has perhaps been the biggest threat. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the the 1950s, a large forested valley was devastated by fire which resulted in leaving three small fragments, each about 5 km apart. Local changes in landuse has prevented these fragments from expanding. More recently, during the 1992-1993 conflict, the forest at Strugovi was deliberately burnt leaving today less than 100 mature individuals alive. Generally speaking regeneration is extremely limited except on the steepest rocky slopes and on cliffs where broadleaved trees are unable to compete effectively. During recent fieldwork it was noted that the isolated locality at Viogor in Čajniče Municipality had a poor quality of habitat where the old-growth trees were stressed with thin crowns. Picea omorika is dependent on catastrophic events for good recruitment and healthy subsequent growth to take place. Once established, it often becomes suppressed by Abies alba, Fagus sylvatica and Picea abies (Burschel 1965). In Serbia the decline is slow as a direct result of poor regeneration and its lack of  competitive ability. It is most evident at Mitrovac (Crveni Potok) and in the canyon of the river Milesevka, near to Prijepolje. This decline may become even more pronounced due to the expected climate change (Ballian 2006). Logging has never been a significant threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Serbia, all locations except one are protected within the Tara National Park. In Bosnia and Herzegovina all stands are protected by national legislation.
Picea omorika is widely grown in gardens in northern Europe but few of these collections are either comprehensive or well documented. A well co-ordinated ex-situ conservation programme could play a significant role in conserving its genetic diversity. Recent collections by the International Conifer Conservation Programme in collaboration with Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to broaden the genetic base of the trees grown in the UK. An extensive programme of seed-banking would also be advantageous.

Classifications [top]

0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.2. Genome resource bank
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):90
  Area based regional management plan:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Ballian, D., Longauer, R., Mikić, T., Paule, L., Kajba, D. and Gömöry, D. 2006. Genetic structure of a rare European conifer, Serbian spruce (Picea omorika (Panč.) Purk.). Plant Systematics and Evolution 260(1): 53-63.

Burschel, P. 1965. Die Omorikafichte. Forstarchiv 36: 113-131.

Gajić, M., Vilotić, D., Karadžić, D., Mihajlović, Lj. and Isajev, V. 1994. Omorika – Picea omorika (Pančić) Purkyne na području Na-cionalnog parka Tara (monografska studija). Nacional Park Tara, Bajina Bašta, Šumarski fakultet, Beograd.

Isajev, V. 1987. Serbian spruce (Picea omorika (Pančić) Purkyne improvement on the genetic and selection bases. PhD. Forestry faculty, Belgrade.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Kuittinen H., Muona O., Kärkkäinen K. and Borzan, Ž. 1991. Serbian spruce, a narrow endemic, contains much genetic variation. Canadian Journal of Forestry Resources 21: 363–367.

Novac, Fr. 1927. Zur 50-jährigen Entdeckung der Picea omorika. Mitteilungen der Deutschen Dendrologischen Gesellschaft. Berlin.

Radović, D., Stevanović, V., Marković, D., Jovanović, S., Džukić, G. and Radović, I. 2005. Implementation of GIS technologies in assessment and protection of natural values of Tara National Park. Archives of Biological Sciences Belgrade 57(3): 193-204.

Šilić, Č. 1996. The List of Plant Species (Pteridophyta and Spermatophyta) for the Red Book of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Glasnik Zemaljskog Muzeja Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo.

Wardle, P. 1956. Picea omorika in its natural habitat. Forestry 29(2): 91-117.

Citation: Mataruga, M., Isajev, D., Gardner, M., Christian, T. & Thomas, P. 2011. Picea omorika. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T30313A9532613. . Downloaded on 21 August 2017.
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