Blue Spruce

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Blue Spruce

(Picea pungens Engelm)

Interesting Information About Plant: 

     The Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a member of the pine tree family that is native to the Rocky Mountain regions of North America.  The tree has a mature height of around 70 to 80 feet.  While blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it is long-lived and may reach ages of 600-800 years.  This tree was first discovered in Colorado on top of Pikes Peak in 1862.  It was named by botanist C.C. Parry because of its silver-blue color.  This unique color is attributed to the white powder that forms on new young needles.  These needles are 4-sided and have a very sharp point.  It is this point which gives the species its name “pungens,” which in Latin means sharp.  Needles are attached to the branch by a small peg-like structure called sterigmata.  The sterigmata can persist on the branches even after needles have fallen off.  The blue spruce was adopted as the official state tree of Colorado by vote of the state's school children on April 15, 1892.  Today, the blue spruce is often used as ornamental evergreen in landscaping.  It is also a popular choice for Christmas trees!

Other interesting links:

Common Name: Blue Spruce (a.k.a.  Colorado blue spruce)

Scientific Name: Picea pungens Engelm

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Pinaceae -

Pine Family

Continent of Origin: North America

Most Distinguishing Morphological Feature of This Plant: The bluish color, which is

the result of a white powder deposited on the needles.

Plant Growth Habit:     Large Tree

Height at Maturity:   More than 10 Feet

Life Span:    Perennial

Seasonal Habit:    Evergreen Perennial

Growth Habitat:    Full to Partial Sun

Manner of Culture:  Landscape Tree

Thorns on Younger Stem?   No

Cross Section of Younger Stem:      Roundish  

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter:     More Than The Diameter of a Coffee-Mug 

Produces Brownish Bark?   Yes, though with grayish overtones

Bark Peeling in Many Areas?    Yes

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark:    Patchy, Scaly Bark  

Type of Leaf:   Needle-Like

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet):   Less than Length of a Credit Card

Leaf Complexity:    Simple

Shape of Leaf:    Simple 

Edge of Leaf?    Smooth

Leaf Arrangement:  Alternate

Leaf has Petiole?  No

Patterns of Main-Veins:  Parallel

Leaf Hairiness:   No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer:    Green 

Change in Color of Foliage in October:     No Change   

Flowering Season:   Late Spring, Early Summer

Flowers:    Single, scattered along the tree

Type of Flower:   Colorful Flower

Color of Flower:   Yellow

Shape of Individual Flower:    Radially Symmetrical

Size of Individual Flower:  Between a Quarter and the Length of a Credit

Sexuality:   Male and Female on Same Plant

Size of Fruit:    Between a Quarter and the Length of a Credit Card 

Fruit Fleshiness at Maturity?    Dry

Shape of Fruit:    Oblong-Oval (Cone)

Color of Fruit at Maturity:      Brown or Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels?      No   

Unique Morphological Features of Plant:  Bluish color due to white powder on the needles

Is the Plant Poisonous:    None of Plant

Pesty Plant (weedy, hard to control)?    No

Common Name(s): Blue spruce; Colorado blue spruce; “Silver” spruce

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One:

Other forms of spruce (Engelmann Spruce, White Spruce, etc. – none of which are native to Kentucky)


Page prepared by:

Wesley Thomas

November 2005

Information - 502.452.8000
© Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 2002-2004