En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Why aren't all blue spruce trees blue?

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

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

Need evergreen hedge and groundcover for shade in Carmel, Indiana
September 27, 2010 - Our property is bounded by a fencerow that is wooded and mostly shaded by mulberry and hackberry trees during the growing months. We'd like to create a 5'+ tall evergreen barrier on the property li...
view the full question and answer

Holes in trunk of Monterey Oak in Austin, TX.
May 05, 2013 - My Monterrey Oak (about 4 in diameter) has a problem. It started budding out and had a few leafs, then just quit. It had what I thought was new buds that would develop, but didn't. Then, the exist...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen for inland San Diego, California
November 28, 2009 - I'm looking for an evergreen tree for my inland San Diego residence, 30 foot max height, growth speed is not important. I had decided on the carrotwood until I found your site and discovered the prob...
view the full question and answer

Unusual green fruit
August 17, 2009 - Unknown "fruit" in my backyard I have large (softball size) nobbly green orbs finding their way into my backyard. They sort of look like a tennis ball left out in the rain to rot, but they are o...
view the full question and answer

Source for trees from Burnet TX
August 19, 2012 - I am desperately searching the central Texas area for Pistacia Mexicana male and female trees to buy. I would like about four, maybe more. I live in the Killeen-Lampasas area and have been to seve...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center