The Gymnosperm Database


Mature cone on a tree in the Seattle Arboretum [C.J. Earle, 2006.02.25].


Foliage on a tree in the Seattle Arboretum [C.J. Earle].


Seedling, showing cotyledons [Raul Conde, 2013.02.14].


Range of Picea omorika (Atlas Florae Europaeae 1998).


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Conservation status

Picea omorika

(Panèiæ) Purkyne 1877

Common names

Панчићева оморика, Pančićeva omorika [Serbian], Serbian spruce [English], Ель сербская [Russian], Serbische fichte [German], èpicea de Serbie [French], picea di Serbia [Italian] (Jovanoviæ 1986).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Pinus omorika Panèiæ 1876.


Narrow-pyramidal, straight tree to trunk 50 m tall. Bark thin, red-brown. First-order branches short (-2 m). Leaves 8-20 mm long, up to 2 mm wide; dark green on the upper side with 2 white stomatal lines on the lower side. Pollen cones light red, yound seed cones violet. Flowers from the end of April to June, depending on habitat. Cones pendant, 5-6 cm long, red-brown, ripening in October and November. Seed 2-3 mm long, with a wing 5-8 mm long. Cotyledons 5-6, 10-12 mm long (Jovanoviæ 1986).

Distribution and Ecology

W Serbia and E Bosnia in a small area around the river Drina, on the following mountains: Tara, Zvijezda, Viogor, Radomišlja, Jadovnik. This species was widespread in Europe millions of years ago (known by fossilized remains), but after Pleistocene glaciation it survived only in this refugium. It is found on chiefly calcareous soils at 400-1700 m elevation, usually on steep N-facing slopes. It occurs in pure stands or mixed with Picea abies, Abies alba, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus nigra, Fagus silvatica, Acer spp, Betula pendula, Populus tremula, Ostrya carpinifolia, Sorbus aucuparia, Salix caprea and other species. It sometimes grows in hydric soils with Alnus glutinosa, Picea abies, Abies alba, Fagus silvatica (Jovanoviæ 1986).

Hardy to Zone 5 (cold hardiness limit between -28.8°C and -23.3°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree




Its wood is similar to that of the common European spruce Picea abies. It is widely planted as an ornamental tree in central and northern Europe and North America, and is sometimes used in forestry in these areas (Jovanoviæ 1986). It is exceptionally suitable to horticultural applications, being tolerant of poor soils, fast-growing to a height of about 50 feet, and tolerant of air pollution (Johnson 1993).



It was logged until the early 20th century, but the few remaining small stands are protected (Jovanoviæ 1986). The Conifer Specialist Group (1998) reports that it known from fewer than 1000 trees, occurring on 60 ha of forest in Pancic Narodni Nature Reserve in the Tara Mts. The only threat appears to come from competition with P. abies and Fagus orientalis (Johnson 1993).


Atlas Florae Europaeae. 1998. Computer program available for download at URL=, accessed 2009.04.17.

Conifer Specialist Group. 1998. Picea omorika. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (accessed 2006.09.28).

Johnson, Hugh. 1993. The International Book of Trees. London: Mitchell Beazley.

Jovanoviæ, Branislav. 1986. "Picea omorika," in Flora Srbije. Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Thanks to Milan Jovanovic for information and assistance contributed 1999.02.

Last Modified 2017-12-29