Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Picea abies (L.) Karst.

Fully-hardy evergreen conical tree, ageing to columnar, with blunt, 4-sided leaves, to 2.5cm long, pointing forwards and upwards on the shoots, and cylindrical female cones, to 20cm long, green turning brown.  To 40m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Old garden plant.  Probably introduced to Britain before 1500.  [Hilliers’].  The resin has been long used in medicine.  ‘Upon an incision being made into the bark of this tree, a clear tenacious fluid issues, which concretes into a resinous substance, known by the name of refina abietis.  This, after being boiled in water, and strained through a linen cloth, is called in the Pharmacopoeias Pix burgundica, or Burgundy pitch.  But if the boiling of the native resin is continued till the water is wholly evaporated, and wine vinegar is at this time added, a substance named Colophonium is formed.’  [Medical Botany v.3 p.573].  Saint-Hilaire Arb. pl.73/1824.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues under the name Abies communis [C.4/1845].  See also Picea abies (L.) Karst. var. exelsa.


Published Jul 14, 2009 - 04:24 PM | Last updated Jul 29, 2010 - 03:24 PM

Figured are shoots with leaves and brown female cones.  Saint-Hilaire Arb. pl.73, 1824.

Picea abies (L.) Karst. | Saint-Hilaire Arb. pl.73/1824 | BHL

Family Pinaceae
Region of origin

Scandinavia to central Europe

  • Picea excelsa (Lam.) Link.
  • Pinus abies L.
  • Pinus excelsa Lam.
  • Abies communis P.Lawson
Common Name

Christmas tree, Norway spruce, Common spruce

Name in the Camden Park Record

Abies communis - Common Spruce Fir 

Confidence level high