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Picea pungens var. glauca

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Picea pungens f. glauca
Phonetic Spelling
PI-see-a PUN-jenz GLAW-ka
Description

Colorado blue spruce is a medium to a large dense evergreen tree that has a pyramidal habit with horizontal branches and blue-green to silvery-blue needles. This is a popular ornamental and accent tree for its color and shape. It may grow from 30 to 60 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide. It serves as a beautiful vertical accent and makes an excellent windbreak. The needles are about 1-inch long, stiff, spikey, stout, and curve slightly.  The cones are light brown and cylinder-shaped when mature. It is a member of the Pinaceae or pine family. 

It is native to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States from New Mexico up to Colorado and is cold hardy down to zone 3.

The genus name, Picea, is thought to be derived from the Latin word pix which means "pitch." This refers to the sticky resin in the bark of the tree. The species name, pungens, means "sharp and pointed" which references the needles. The variety name, glauca, means "covered with a waxy bloom" which also references the tree's needles.

The Colorado blue spruce prefers full sun and cold nights. It is tolerant of dry and moist soils but is intolerant to standing water. It performs well in most soil types and pH levels. This spruce needs to be planted where it will have plenty of room to grow and thrives in urban areas. 

Consider the Colorado blue spruce in cold climates with a hardiness zone of 2a to 3b. If planted in the southeastern United States, this variety of evergreen struggles and is slow-growing due to the heat and humidity. It may be best to consider cultivar of this variety in the southeast. This low-maintenance dense evergreen will add beauty and color to the landscape.

Seasons of Interest:

Bark: Year-round     Foliage: Year-round     Fruit: Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • dense, pyramidal-shaped evergreen with horizontal branching
  • dark gray furrowed bark on mature trees
  • blue-green to silvery-green spiky, stiff, needles measuring up to 1 inch long and curve slightly at the end of the branch
  • light brown cones measure 2 to 4 inches long

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The Colorado blue spruce is susceptible to aphids, spruce gall aphids, scale, bagworms, and spider mites.

 

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Baby Blue Eyes'
    semi-dwarf, blue-green needles
  • 'Fastigiata'
    semi-dwarf, blue-green needles
  • 'Fat Albert'
    broadly pyramidal, semi-dwarf
  • 'Glauca Prostrata'
    shrub, dwarf, procumbent, blue-green needles
  • "Globosa'
    dwarf tree or shrub, mound-shaped, compact, blue-green needles
  • 'The Blue'
    dwarf, weeping, powder blue needles
'Baby Blue Eyes', 'Fastigiata', 'Fat Albert', 'Glauca Prostrata', "Globosa', 'The Blue'
Tags:
#cultivars#needles#blue needles#native tree#pyramidal#conifer#accent plant#hedges#needled evergreen#tall#rock garden#border planting#showy cones#heat intolerant#ornamental tree#full sun#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Baby Blue Eyes'
    semi-dwarf, blue-green needles
  • 'Fastigiata'
    semi-dwarf, blue-green needles
  • 'Fat Albert'
    broadly pyramidal, semi-dwarf
  • 'Glauca Prostrata'
    shrub, dwarf, procumbent, blue-green needles
  • "Globosa'
    dwarf tree or shrub, mound-shaped, compact, blue-green needles
  • 'The Blue'
    dwarf, weeping, powder blue needles
'Baby Blue Eyes', 'Fastigiata', 'Fat Albert', 'Glauca Prostrata', "Globosa', 'The Blue'
Tags:
#cultivars#needles#blue needles#native tree#pyramidal#conifer#accent plant#hedges#needled evergreen#tall#rock garden#border planting#showy cones#heat intolerant#ornamental tree#full sun#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Picea
    Species:
    pungens
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wyoming to New Mexico
    Distribution:
    Rocky Mountains of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming
    Play Value:
    Textural
    Wind Break
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2b, 2a, 3b, 3a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit initially emerges green in color and then turns purple. As it matures, the cone becomes light brown and cylinder-shaped with scales. It measures 2 to 4 inches long, and harvesting may occur in the fall and winter.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The needles are stiff, stout, spiky, four-sided, and curve slightly. They measure 0.75 to 1.25 inches and are blue-green or silvery-green. There are stomatic lines on each side of the needle. The needles are arranged all around the stem, but they appear more numerous on the upper side of the branch.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Description:
    The bark is dark gray, rough, and furrowed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Hedge
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Urban Conditions
    Wind