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Picea pungens (Colorado Spruce)
Picea pungens (Colorado Spruce)

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Zones A2, A3, 4-6, 14-17
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Picea sitchensis

Sitka Spruce
Evergreen, Trees


Like firs (Abies), spruces are pyramidal, with branches arranged in neat tiers. Unlike firs, however, they have pendent cones, and their needles are stiffer and attached to branches by small pegs that remain behind after the needles drop.

Most spruces are tall timber trees that lose their lower branches fairly early in life as they head upward; their canopies thin out noticeably as they age.

Many species have dwarf varieties useful for foundation plantings, in rock gardens, in containers; these plants have shallow root systems and so need a reasonably cool location. Spruces generally grow best where summers are cool or mild; they will not thrive in heat and humidity. Spruces have no special soil requirements.

Birds are attracted to these trees—both for seeds and for shelter. Check spruces for small, dull green aphids in winter; if they—re present, take control measures at that time to prevent defoliation in spring.

Pine needle scale (look for flat, white scale insects on needles) may encourage sooty mold. In Rocky Mountain states, spruces may be bothered by spider mites and tussock moths.

Picea sitchensis

Native to cool, foggy areas from Alaska to California. The largest of all spruces, this is a pyramidal tree 80–160 ft. tall and 20–40 ft.wide in cultivation; plants in the wild may grow much taller. Horizontal branches hold short, flat, prickly needles that are glossy dark green above, powder blue beneath. Needs moisture both in atmosphere and soil to look its best. Subject to Cooley spruce gall

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