Picea omorika - Serbian spruce

Serbian spruce grows naturally only in a very small area on the borders of Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, at altitudes between 1000-1500m above sea level. It is an interesting relict species from pre-glacial times, when it had a much wider range in Europe. It can be recognised from a distance by its shape, which is very narrow. Another way of recognising it is the colour of the needles, whose lower surface is shiny silvery, easily visible when the ends of the branches turn gracefully upwards.

Nowadays this species is quite common in gardens and other landscape plantings in southern Finland. It resists pollution well, which favours its use in towns and along roadsides. It is at its best, however, in groups or small picturesque woods where these tall trees present almost a Gothic cathedral-like appearance. In suitable places it can be planted as a productive landscape species, and in recent years has become increasingly popular as a Christmas tree.

The oldest Serbian spruce plantation at Mustila was planted in 1914 using seed received direct from Bosnia in 1907. The growth rate bears comparison with local spruce, and it is much longer-living than many other exotic spruce species. The best plantation is along the footpath just west of Kenkäkallio, or Shoe Rock, but it also grows on the western side of Alppiruusulaakso, or Rhododendron Valley, at the edge of Tammimetsä, or Oak Forest and on the western edge of the Arboretum, at Nokkala.