Picea pungens
(Colorado Blue Spruce)
[Engelm.]

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
usually 25-40 m tall; dense whorls of flattened Sprays, overall appearance is pyramidal and dense.
leaves
cones
seeds
  • the sharply pointed,
  • four-sided leaves are strongly incurved,
  • 2-3 cm long,
  • dull bluish-green, often with a silvery bloom.
  • The 1.0-1.5 cm long pollen cones are cylindrical and reddish-yellow;
  • they are located on the lower ½ of the tree.
  • The ovulate cones are produced on the upper branches; thus when the wind blows the pollen, it takes it to the ovulate cones of adjacent trees rather than to the ovulate cones on the same tree, thus enhancing cross pollination.
  • The six to 10 cm long ovulate cones hang downward;
  • the scales are longer than the bracts and thus totally conceal them.
  • The erose margined scales are acuminate, sometimes notched at their blunt tips which point upward like the tip of a ski.
  • dark brown,
  • 2-4 mm long with wing twice as long

General Description:
A tree usually 25-40 m tall, with dense whorls of flattened Sprays and the trunks 5-10 dm in diameter; the overall appearance is pyramidal and dense. The branches are close together, the lower ones drooping slightly and the upper ones point upward slightly. The sharply pointed leaves are strongly incurved, 2-3 cm long, dull bluish-green, often with a silvery bloom. Pistillate cones pale greenish-purple, oblong; seeds 4-6 mm long.

Distribution:
In Idaho, it is found along the Wyoming border. It is found naturally, in patchy distribution in Eastern Idaho, Western Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

Habitat:
This species grows at elevations of 5750 to 11,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains in moister areas along stream and meadows in deep soils. It is commonly found in mixed stands with Engelmann Spruce, Douglas Fir, Lodgepole Pine and sometimes with Ponderosa Pine. However, this species is widely cultivated and is one of the most common conifers in cultivation.

Other:
This species is widely cultivated and is one of the most common conifers in cultivation. Although of limited use for wildlife, its seeds provide some food for squirrels, rodents, and some birds. The light, pale brown wood is lightweight, soft, somewhat brittle and knotty does not have much commercial value.

Important State References:
No information available at this time.
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002