Planted in North America

23 December 2020

When the first Christmas trees were decorated in 16th century Germany the species of choice was the abundant Picea abies or Norway spruce. The Christmas tradition spread to North America and so did the tree. Nowadays you can find Norway spruces planted across the landscape of northeastern North America.

Some are in plantations.

Norway spruce plantation at Moraine State Park, Butler County, PA (photo by Kate St. John)
Norway spruces at Riverside Park in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (photo by Ryan Hodnett via Flickr Creative Commons license)

Many stand alone.

Norway spruce (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The trees are easy to identify because their drooping branchlets make the tops of the branches look bare. They also have the largest cone of any spruce …

Norway spruce branches and cones (photo by bitsorf via Flickr Creative Commons license)

… with papery thin scales and winged seeds.

Picea abies cone and seeds (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

If you find a mature Norway spruce deep in Pennsylvania’s woods, chances are you’ve found the site of an old homestead. It had to be planted in North America.

(photos form Flickr Creative Commons License and Wikimedia Commons; click the captions to see the originals)

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