Green Oriental SprucePicea orientalis 'Atrovirens'
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Picea orientalis 'Atrovirens'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Green Oriental Spruce is a magnificent specimen evergreen, of great beauty, featuring very dark green, glossy needles on branches that sweep outwards, making a beautiful pyramidal tree with horizontal branches. Reaching around 12 feet after 10 years, it will ultimately grow 25 to 40 feet tall, and could one day reach over 80 feet. It is ideal as a specimen on a larger lawn, alone or in a group planting. The cones on mature trees are dark purple in summer, making a striking effect, and the tiny, bright red pollen cones in spring are eye-catching.
Plant the Green Oriental Spruce in a sunny place, in any ordinary well-drained soil. It is hardy from zone 4 to zone 8, so it grows almost anywhere. This rare tree is as easy to grow as any ordinary spruce tree, and far superior in appearance to the common Norway spruce. It has no particular problems from pests or diseases, and it needs no trimming to keep its beautiful form. Keep a single leading stem on young trees to ensure the development of a strong central trunk.
When choosing trees for your landscape and garden, you can plant something ordinary, a tree that everyone has in their gardens, or you can choose to be more adventurous and grow something rare. ‘More interesting’ doesn’t have to mean ‘more difficult’, and unusual tree species are often as easy to grow as their common relatives are. If you are looking for an evergreen tree to plant as a specimen on a lawn you can choose an ordinary spruce tree – perhaps the Norway spruce, but for something similar but much more beautiful, we recommend the Green Oriental Spruce instead. Ultimately growing into a tall tree, but looking gorgeous even when young, this outstanding hardy evergreen has a special grace and charm, and it is easy to grow, needing no special care or maintenance. Always rare, you can be sure you will have an outstanding specimen just as easy to grow, but far more beautiful than any common evergreen.
The Green Oriental Spruce is a pyramidal coniferous evergreen with a single central trunk. Even young trees have a beautiful form, with branches right to the ground. Older trees have a wonderful ‘presence’, with broad horizontal branches and dense foliage. The needles are a rich, dark, glossy green. Growing 6 to 12 inches a year, this tree will be perhaps 12 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet wide at the base after 10 years, but ultimately it can reach 80 feet tall, with a width of 20 or 30 feet across the lowest branches. Trees of that size are rare, and you can expect in time for this tree to reach between 25 and 40 feet in height, and perhaps 20 feet across.
You should allow plenty of room for that ultimate growth when planting the Green Oriental Spruce, so don’t plant beneath overhead wires, or within 15 feet of a building or the property line. This is a majestic tree to place on a large lawn, to view from a distance. Plant a single tree in a smaller garden, but if you are lucky enough to have plenty of room, a grove of 3 or 5 trees would be magnificent. With its classic ‘Christmas tree’ form, this is the perfect tree to attach lights to, and decorate for the holidays. This tree would also be a great choice for a row along a property line, or for planting on the sunny side of a wooded area in a natural setting. It will grow well planted on sloping ground, and among large boulders and rocks in a natural setting.
The bark of the Green Oriental Spruce is smooth and pinky-gray, maturing to darker gray and splitting into small, rounded plates – a very attractive effect. The needles are short, no more than one-third of an inch long, but densely arranged around the young stems. They are very dark green and glossy, and they give this tree its wonderful ‘look’. In spring mature trees produce tiny, bright red pollen cones which are eye-catching. The much larger female cones, hanging singly or in pairs, are a beautiful dark purple color all summer, growing up to 4 inches long and turning brown as they mature in fall.
The Green Oriental Spruce is just as easy to grow as any other spruce tree. It is hardy in zone 4, and grows well even in zone 8, and of course everywhere in between. Any well-drained soil is suitable and once established this tree is moderately drought resistant, so some supplementary watering during extended dry spells will be appreciated, especially by younger trees. Pests and diseases are rarely a problem, and if you do not need the clearance underneath it is best to leave the lowest branches as long as possible. Their sweeping form emphasizes the pyramidal form, and create a beautiful profile.
The Oriental Spruce, Picea orientalis, is native to the Caucasus mountains, an area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It is found mostly around the Black Sea, from southern Georgia into northern Turkey. These eastern areas, bordering Europe, were once called ‘the east’, or ‘the Orient’, which is why this tree has its common name. It is also called the Caucasian Spruce, which is a clearer and preferably name for it, indicating exactly its origins. This tree has been cultivated in European gardens for a long time, and the variety called ‘Atrovirens’ was selected for its exceptionally dark, glossy and rich-green needles in the early years of the 20th century, sometime before 1911, at the den Ouden nursery in Boskoop, the Netherlands. This is the tree we call the Green Oriental Spruce, and its is always a scarce and yet highly-regarded tree. We know that our young plants will be snapped up by collectors, so order now – why plant the ordinary, when you can grow the exceptional just as easily?