We know it from the many songs about Christmas trees, but it’s still the fir tree that lends personality to the garden and grows into your very own jolly green giant.
Evergreen and a minimal shedder – what more do you want? Spruce (Picea omorika, Picea glauca conica) is officially a hardy conifer, but looks like a proper pine tree, often complete with pine cones beneath the branches. In the wild it comes in a range of sizes from 50cm to 50m. The decorative value is determined by the arrangement of the branches covered in needles (actually leaves) and the shape of the tree. They can be a classic pine shape, with layered branches that sit in a ring around the trunk, or spherical and grown in a pyramid shape.
Spruce up your knowledge!
Spruce is a genus in the Pinaceae family of fir trees which contain some 45 species. The tree originates from northern Europe, although it can also be found up in high altitudes in large parts of Asia. You can tell a spruce from a pine by examining the needles: on a spruce they’re flat and attached to the twig individually, whilst on a pine tree they’re round and clustered together. Unlike firs (Abies), part of the bark comes away when a needle is pulled off a spruce (Picea). Spruces therefore always have a tag on the removed needle.
From indoors to outdoors
Once your Spruce has done its job as a Christmas tree and you want to give it a second chance outdoors, make sure it has a sizeable root ball when buying. Place it in a pot with water and shrub food over Christmas to ensure it suffers as little damage as possible from the dry atmosphere. To ensure that the transition is not too much of a shock, don’t place it outdoors until the frost has ended. Planted nice and deep and fed with some extra water and food, the Spruce will settle well.
In Greek mythology Spruce is associated with Artemis, the goddess of the moon.
German tribes stored the cones as a symbol of fertility.
The wood of the Spruce has many uses for flooring, furniture, instruments, crates and gardenware.