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

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Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-7
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Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Picea mariana

BLACK SPRUCE
Pinaceae

PICEA

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 mariana 'Aurea', photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia
Picea mariana 'Aurea', photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia

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Picea mariana

Native to Alaska and otherparts of northern North America. Forms an irregular column to 30–50 ft. tall, 6–10 ft. wide. Bluish green needles. Tolerates cold, wet soils. ‘Nana’ is a choice compact variety (to 3 ft. high, 4–6 ft. wide) with blue-gray foliage.

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