Colorado Blue Spruce

Picea pungens

  • Mature Height: 30′
  • Mature Spread: 15′
  • Cold Hardy: Zone 3
  • Notable Cultivars: Picea pungens ‘Globosa’

Description

The blue spruce is maybe the most popular evergreen landscape tree at Deep Creek Lake.  The Blue Spruce is characterized by a beautiful blue to blue-green color and extremely sharp (and stiff) needles that serve as a deer deterrent.   There are different types of blue spruce trees, some of which include the short shrub-like versions along with shorter growing cultivars of the traditional tree.  Blue spruce trees are native to Garrett County and you will find these trees growing on some of the oldest properties in the area.   However, the Blue Spruce has been widely introduced elsewhere and is used as an ornamental tree in many places far beyond its native range.

Environmental Conditions

Blue spruce grows in a climatic zone that is generally cool and humid, with most of the annual precipitation occurring in the summer. Although blue spruce grows best with abundant moisture, this species can withstand drought better than any other spruce. It can also withstand extremely low temperatures (-40° C; -40° F, great for Garrett County!), and it is more resistant to high insolation (exposure to sunlight) and frost damage than other associated species.

History

Shortly after the species was discovered in 1861, writers described it as “a finely shaped tree” and “the most beautiful species of conifer.”  Surface waxes cause the coloration on its needles which intensifies with age.  There are some interesting facts about blue spruce trees.  One is the Native Americans used oil and parts of the tree for medicinal purposes, and another is spruce tips have been used in the beer brewing process by many for hundreds of years. In fact, they were one of the main additions in beer before people learned about brewing with hops!

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