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Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult.
Karl Von Clausewitz

Colorado Spruce in northern Arizona

A striking wild specimen. Note the column shape. I think given time to grow most spruce will find a shape like this. This particular one is in northern Arizona.

Colorado Spruce

Picea pungens

Colorados come in a variety of colours. Only about a third can be called blue, and only a few percent are that lovely blue-white. The colour comes from tiny beads of resin on the needles. More beads = lighter colour. Smaller beads = bluer colour. Lots of tiny beads = blue white. With time the beads fall off, which is why the new growth is always bluer than the old. Soapy water will wash the beads off, turning the tree greener. Be careful washing the car.

Colorado's have a huge variation in color, ranging from chartreuse to a deep green, to a variety of blues. For this reason, if you are going to plant a row, buy a named cultivar. You are much more likely to get a set that are close in colour. (To some degree colour is determined by environmental conditions. If you want exact matches, buy a container load of artificial Christmas trees, and paint them the colour you want.)

Colorado's grow slowly, typically only half the speed of white spruce. This makes them more full as young trees, but it will take them much longer to become imposing and elegant.

SFTF Colorado Spruce

This is a typical blue-green specimen.

Cones and needles

The cones of Colarados are much larger than the cones of our native white spruce. Needles tend to be longer. And they are very sharp and stiff.

Trees in constant shade tend to be less blue. (Makes me think that blue may be a slight survival factor during drought.)

Colorados are not fast growers. Under average care they grow 6-10 inches per year. By comparison our native white spruce grows about twice as fast.

In their natural environment they show a lot of variation in form, ranging from broad, to conical to almost a column-like pillar.

Colorado spruce are extremely drought resistant. Water their first year, then ignore.


A fine blue-white specimen. Note that even amoung blues there are differences between them. Also the tips of the branches are bluer than the rest. Partly due to more light (the needles behind the tips are in more shadow) but also because the resin beads gradually fall off over the live of the needle.

I've yet to find any explaination in books for a survival advantage for the beads, which may be why it's so variable. (Maybe my guess above is right. Then again, maybe not.)

If you want consistent colour, stick with the named cultivars.

Mine are open pollenated stock, so expect a fair amount of variation.

Size: 30-60 feet.

Soil: Dry to moist. Doesn't like wet soils. Not good in very alkaline soils.


Typical Green Spruce. Over half of natural seeded Colorado spruce end up close to this color.

Colorado Spruce Seedlings

Young seedlings in our nursary

Lawyer's Nursery [What Makes My Blue Spruce Blue](https://www.lawyernursery.com/PDF_static/articles/2010_Jan_What_Makes_My_Blue_Spruce_Blue.pdf

Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548

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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.