Thursday, December 17, 2009

Norway Spruce & Rockefeller Center

Since we are well into the holiday season, it seems appropriate to post on Picea abies or Norway Spruce.

Norway Spruces are probably recognizable to people living in the mid-Atlantic states, if not areas beyond, despite the fact that the plant is (as the common name suggests) native to areas between the Ural Moutains and Norway. It was introduced to North America during colonial times and has been a popular favorite since. It's often sold in a pot at plant nurseries as a 'live Christmas tree' that can be transplanted to the yard after the holidays. Of course, the subsequent danger is that it is planted too close to the house. I have seen more than one modest rancher dwarfed by these trees.

Norways are identifiable from other spruces by their almost pendulous habit. Long swooping branches have smaller branches, laden with needles, hanging down. In the past, I have likened this plant's habit to an Afghan dog. That's utterly ridiculous, I know, but my students seem to get it.

is derivative of the ancient Latin name for pitch (pix). That's because the Norway's wood is often used for pulp and paper. It is also used for a furniture varnish. New shoots are used in a spruce beer and finally, the roots of this tree can be used for rope.

Note the woody husk that is pulled from the branch along with the needle. That's quite typical with Picea abies.

Another key I tell my students is Picea=pierce. That's because the needles are quite sharp - they pierce your skin much more than a similar looking Fir (Abies) tree would.

Picea abies is also quite famous, because it is usually the tree used at Rockefeller Center. Which gives me the perfect segway to some photos of the NYBG train show:

Yes, there's 30 Rock itself (flanked by other New York sights such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building), complete with the angel statues and even Prometheus.


How It Grows said...

I heartily agree with your caution about planting live Christmas trees! It's almost always a mistake.

Jennifer G. Horn said...

Thanks! It always makes me shake my head when I see one of these planted right near a front door.

Michael said...

A fabulous Christmas Blog. I can't help but wonder about the term Norway Spruce and your aunt's Noweigean maple. Made me laugh.

Invertir en oro said...

Wow! great blog. I know you went surfing one past New Years Day, so this is sans wet suit, san boots, gloves hat and so on. Congrats.