En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 04, 2008

From: Westminster, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Trees
Title: Columnar evergreen for Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am looking for an evergreen 6-8 (or more) feet tall, very columnar; 3 feet spread in diameter, zone 5, full sun, dark green, clayish-OK soil. Thank you so much!


Here are some suggestions for conical evergreens that are native to Colorado:

Abies concolor (white fir or Colorado fir) is "symetrically conical in yourh", but becomes more irregular as it grows taller. It's maximum height can be as much as 100 feet but is, in general, slow-growing. it doesn't do well in heavy clay soils, but adapts well to other soils. There are various dwarf and other cultivars.

Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain juniper) is described as being "columnar to somewhat rounded" and its maximu height is 30-40 feet with a spread of 3-15 feet. There are cultivars (e.g., 'Blue Trail','Gray Gleam', 'Medora', 'Pathfinder', 'Skyrocket') that have a more columnar growth.

Picea pungens (blue spruce) is "naturally conical in shape...grows from 50-100 ft, but it is usually shorter in cultivation." There are several cultivars.

Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) is columnar or conical. It "grows from 15-150 ft. tall depending on the environment." There are various cultivars.

You can see more native Colorado trees by doing a Combination Search in our Native Plant Database and selecting 'Colorado' from Select State or Province and 'Tree' from Habit (general appearance). There are other characteristics, as well, that you can use to narrow your search.

Abies concolor

Juniperus scopulorum

Picea pungens

Pseudotsuga menziesii



More Trees Questions

Edible forest garden for northern Minnesota
March 07, 2014 - I am planning an edible forest garden for northern Minnesota. Can you suggest a list of plants that are native to this area. We are in zone 3a or 3b. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Problems with mature cottonwood in Justin TX
September 17, 2012 - I have a very large, 90" circumference, approx 60' tall, cottonwood tree in my front yard that appears to be sick. The trunk splits at about the 4' level into 2 parts. at that split is a 10" wide...
view the full question and answer

Dead woody plants in wildlife garden in Austin
March 02, 2011 - I am an enthusiastic and pretty successful wildlife gardener, have studied my Wasowski "Bible", but I can't get any evergreens established in my yard! We live on blackland clay, which I amend with ...
view the full question and answer

Quaking Aspens in Albuquerque
October 25, 2010 - How do quaking aspens fare in north east Albuquerque?
view the full question and answer

A tap-rooted tree for Munroe Falls, OH?
August 16, 2012 - Hello.. We need to find a fast growing shade tree which has a tap root or a heart root system. No surface roots please. We live in Munroe Falls, Ohio which I believe is Zone 5. Let us know your though...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center