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Colorado Blue SprucePicea pungens

  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens

One of our most popular ornamental conifers, the Colorado blue spruce (or simply, blue spruce) is a truly magnificent sight. Perhaps Donald Culrose Peattie described it best in A Natural History of Western Trees. "This insistently pretty tree displays its charms of tier on tier of branches graduated in perfect symmetry from the longest boughs that sweep the ground to the slender but strong top."

Its silvery blue-green coloring and perfect Christmas tree shape make this tree a great landscaping focal point on commercial and residential properties. It is also widely used for privacy or a windbreak.


Hardiness Zones

The colorado blue spruce can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2–7. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The Colorado blue spruce grows to a height of 50–75' and a spread of 10–20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow to Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12" to 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The Colorado blue spruce adapts well to many soils—growing in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It requires normal moisture with moderate tolerance to flooding and drought.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Displays its unique silvery blue-green color year-round.
  • Withstands wind better than most spruces due to a wide-spreading and moderately deep root system.
  • Is a long-lived specimen.
  • Features needles that are stiff, prickly and roughly 1–1½" in length.
  • Provides privacy and a windbreak when planted in a row.
  • Yields light brown, 3–4" cones which hang downward on the branches and are concentrated in the upper crown.
  • Grows in a columnar, pyramidal shape.

Wildlife Value

This spruce provides food and shelter for siskins, nuthatches and crossbills. Browsers such as deer will often eat the foliage.

History/Lore

The Colorado blue spruce is such a delight that nature seems to have kept it a well-guarded secret for a very long time. It was not until 1862 that this spectacular species was discovered growing in enchanted meadows and stream sides high up in the Rocky Mountains. Once found, the fame of this blue spruce spread quickly, and today it is one of our most widely planted landscape trees as well as the state tree of Colorado. When writing Handbook on Conifers in 1969, Henry Tuescher, curator emeritus of the Montreal Botanical Garden, called the Colorado blue spruce one of the five finest conifers. Tuescher gave no reasons for this honor except for the tree's exceptional beauty.