A narrow, short-branched tree, described as occasionally attaining over 100 ft in height, with a remarkably slender trunk, 3 to 5 ft in girth; juvenile trees assume a very slender, tapering, and elegant form; shoots covered with stiff down, persisting several years. Leaves mostly disposed in or above the horizontal plane, but with a few standing out beneath; those on the upper side appressed, pointing forwards and hiding the branch; they are 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄12 in. wide; abruptly and sharply pointed on young trees, rounded on old ones; dark glossy green, and without stomata on the uppermost side; greyish beneath, with stomatic lines. Cones egg-shaped, tapered at the top, 11⁄4 to 2 in. long; scales broad and rounded, with jagged margins. Bot. Mag., t. 9163.
P. omorika, or a species closely allied to it, was widely distributed in Europe before the Ice Age, but is now confined to a few stands in the limestone mountains on either side of the upper Drina in Yugoslavia, most of them located from north-west to north-east of Višegrad. A distribution map by Prof. Fukarek will be found in Int. Dendr. Soc. Ybk. (1968), p. 32. It was described in 1876 by Dr Pančić, who had received specimens in the previous year, and visited the stands in 1877. It was introduced to cultivation in 1881, by Froebel of Zurich, who received seeds from Dr Pančić. Kew received seeds direct from Belgrade in 1889.
P. omorika is of considerable scientific interest as the only flat-needled spruce in Europe and an undoubted relict from the tertiary epoch. It is, besides, one of the finest spruces introduced to this country. Near London it thrives better than any other, remaining well furnished with its dark green leaves, growing rapidly, and retaining a slender, very elegant form. As it starts into growth late, it is not damaged by spring frosts, and will grow well on acid as well as calcareous soils.
The largest tree at Kew from the introduction of 1889 measures 62 × 23⁄4 ft (1970). Two trees at Murthly Castle, Perths., a few years younger, measure 90 × 61⁄4 ft and 85 × 61⁄4 ft (1970). Others are: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, Bloomer’s Valley, 80 × 43⁄4 ft (1973); Leonardslee, Sussex, 79 × 41⁄4 ft (1968); Sheffield Park, Sussex, pl. 1910 (?), 78 × 5 ft (1968). The following were measured in Eire in 1966: Headfort, Co. Meath, pl. 1913, 54 × 6 ft; Ashbourne House, Co. Cork, 62 × 53⁄4 ft.
cv. ‘Nana’. – A slow-growing variety of dense, irregular habit, eventually 10 ft or so high. Leaves closely set, about 3⁄8 in. long, more or less radially arranged. One of the best small conifers, raised in Holland around 1930.