Insights into the intraspecific variation in climate response of forest trees and the utilization of suitable seed sources are required to maintain forest ecoystems under expected climate change. Individuals of Norway spruce with an anomalous spherical-shaped crown were characterized by genetic (using a mtDNA marker) and dendroclimatic analysis. Such trees occur frequently at the fringe of the spruce distribution in east/south-east Austria. We employed pair-wise comparisons between trees with spherical and “regular” conical crowns on 47 sites. No evidence was found for a different phylogeographic history of spherical and conical spruces, but the high allelic diversity at the nad1 locus highlighted the importance of east/south-east Austria as refugium and migration corridor for Norway spruce. Analysis of mean annual increment revealed a larger amount of earlywood within the sapwood area and fewer negative pointer years for spherical spruces than for conical ones, pointing at a higher vitality and smaller interactions between climate and growth for spherical spruces. Although the results cannot explain the anomalous crown form, they suggest spherical trees to have a higher ability to cope the warm and dry climate of the region than “regular” conical spruces. We discuss the origin of spherical crowns in terms of population history and phenotypic plasticity and speculate on possible effects of crown architecture on canopy-atmosphere exchange.