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?

Share

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
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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Privacy Tree for Austin, TX
February 10, 2013 - Can you recommend a tall privacy plant similar to the Thuya Green Giant that is suitable to the Austin environment?
view the full question and answer

Will corn fall victim to allelopathy from hackberry in Clarkridge AR
March 30, 2013 - Will my corn be inhibited by a nearby hackberry and if so would it help to cut it down? I understand that sometimes the soil is full of the chemicals the tree produces.
view the full question and answer

Tree leaves being chewed in Austin
July 04, 2009 - We planted a Texas Redbud tree, and Monterey Oak (Mexican White Oak) in the front yard this spring and both have had their leaves eaten or chewed by something I cannot find on their leaves. At first I...
view the full question and answer

Why are branches falling from my pecan trees?
November 02, 2010 - I have tree branches falling that appear to have been cut, not broken,off the tree. Seen most on the pecan trees but had a young red bud die with what appears a clean cut of the trunk approx. 2 feet ...
view the full question and answer

Skin allergies; is Juniper the culprit in Simi Valley, CA?
July 21, 2012 - My husband and I have had terrible skin allergy problems this spring (for me it's been 3 years) and think it may be the juniper bushes outside our bedroom and kitchen windows. Is there a fast growin...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center