En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
5 ratings

Sunday - February 07, 2010

From: Springfield, IL
Region: Select Region
Topic: Trees
Title: Why aren't all blue spruce trees blue?
Answered by: Janice Kvale


I have been looking at blue spruce trees recently and I have noticed at a couple tree farms that not all blue spruce look blue at all. Some that are listed as Co. Blue Spruce are very green. The shape, the branches, and the needles are the same.......but the color is green as can be. Whats up with that?


Not all Picea pungens (blue spruce), the state tree of Colorado and Utah, are blue. While some are quite blue in color, others have a silvery sheen to their coloration, and many native "blue" spruce are just plain fir-tree-green as you have observed. Regarding the blue spruce, naturalist and author Donald Culross Peattie who had a special interest in trees noted "These trees are not consistently powdered with that look of stage moonlight; they are predominately dark green, even somber, like most Spruces, with little blue about them, except for a brief season, the tips of the new growth, or here and there, a young specimen that is fairly azure all over."

Why is this so? For the same reason some humans have blue eyes and others have brown eyes: genetics. A fair amount of research on the blue spruce and its cultivars demonstrate the variations in color as well as size are dependent on the genetics of the trees. Other conifers, such as the Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir), also carry a genetic tendency to be blue-green in color. Thanks for an interesting question.


Pseudotsuga menziesii

Pseudotsuga menziesii

Picea pungens

More Trees Questions

What to do with a sickly American elm in Austin, Texas
September 27, 2010 - I have an American elm that is about 6 feet tall in my yard. It is has not grown quickly this year--as compared to another American Elm that I have in another spot that is about 3 feet tall and has m...
view the full question and answer

Allelopathy of American elms from Dallas
March 24, 2013 - Are American elms at all allelopathic?
view the full question and answer

Eastern Redbud Flowers and Leaves Dried Up
June 12, 2014 - I have a young Eastern Redbud that started blooming last year. This year blossoms formed and leaves started to come, but now they are all dried up. What might have caused this?
view the full question and answer

Native Trees for Pflugerville TX
September 28, 2013 - I'm looking for suggestions on native, drought tolerant conifers that can be located in a Pflugerville landscape under overhead electric lines. Open to Arizona Cypress, but concerned about the height...
view the full question and answer

Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
January 06, 2014 - I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center