Picea pungens

Colorado Spruce




  • native to southwestern United States
  • zone 3

Habit and Form

  • evergreen tree with horizontal, stiff branches
  • branches tend to go to the ground
  • narrow, dense, conical shape
  • conical shape opens with age
  • 30' to 60' tall , can reach 120'
  • 10' to 20' spread
  • slow growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • needles are spread around stem, with more located above stem then below
  • needles are four sided with 6 stomatal lines on each side
  • needles are 0.75" to 1.25" long
  • needles are very stiff and rigid
  • blue green to green color

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color, evergreen


  • monoecious
  • not ornamentally important


  • mature cones are cylindrical and pointed at each end, up to 5" long and about 1" wide
  • violet color turning to a medium brown at maturity
  • cone scales are wavy
  • cone tip is blunt and jagged looking because of wavy scale margins
  • cones are held on short stalks


  • gray brown color
  • blocky


  • prefers organic, moist soil
  • very adaptable
  • somewhat drought tolerant for a spruce
  • full sun

Landscape Use

  • specimen (blue needled)
  • screen
  • large shade tree when an evergreen is desired
  • groupings or mass planting


  • spruce gall aphid, cause branch tip die back
  • spider mite
  • needle color variation
  • pointed needles are very sharp
  • branches all the way to the ground

ID Features

  • large, narrow, evergreen tree
  • long cones with wavy scales
  • needles leave petiole on stem when pulled off
  • needles that are 4-sided
  • green to blue-green color
  • stem tip dieback from spruce gall aphid


  • by seed, requires no treatments
  • cultivars by grafting or some by cuttings


f. glauca (also known as var. glauca) - These are natural variants (seed grown plants) with a degree of bluish foliage. This trait is very variable, and most blue-leaved cultivars are merely asexually propagated selections of this form.

'Fat Albert' - A bright blue-needled selection, this plant is notable or its short, squat pyramidal habit to 15' tall. When young, it can appear very wide and rounded.

'Glauca Pendula' (also listed as 'Glauca Procumbens', 'Procumbens', 'Glauca Prostrata' and 'Prostrata') - These forms are rather shapeless plants that sprawl over the ground like a groundcover. The needles are usually a good blue.

'Hoopsii' - Perhaps the cultivar with the strongest blue color, this selection forms a neat, upright tree.

'Iseli Fastigiata' - This is an upright, narrow clone with strong blue foliage. It resembles a blue pillar.

'Iseli Foxtail' (also called 'Foxtail') - The needles at the tips of new branches are much shorter than those at the base, thus the stems resemble "foxtails". The needles are blue and the plant becomes an open tree. This selection may adapt better to hot summers than other forms.

'Koster' (also listed as 'Kosteri') - This is an older blue-foliaged selection, not as preferred by horticulturists due to its unpredictability and lack of uniformity between plants.

'Moerheim' (also listed as 'Moerheimii') - A dense-growing tree to 30' tall, this plant maintains good blue foliage color. It in often irregular when young and requires time to develop its upright tree habit.

'Montgomery' - A conical form with a dense, globular shape, this plant has silvery-blue needles and is popular in commerce.

'Pendula' - With training, this selection forms an upright tree with cascading growth. It can also be allowed to grow prostrate as a groundcover. The needles are bluish in color.

'Thompsenii' (also listed as 'Thompsen' and 'Thomsen') - This is a pyramidal tree similar to 'Hoopsii' with bright blue needles that are very thick in texture. It forms a pryamidal tree. It is considered one of the best selections available.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.