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?

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
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

A privacy hedge for NJ
April 16, 2011 - My backyard faces a highway in New Jersey. 18 years ago White Pines were planted for privacy, but they have since grown and now there is no privacy at all as the tree trucks are rather bare. Is ther...
view the full question and answer

About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
October 19, 2009 - Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Trees for pool area in Solano County, California
June 02, 2010 - We are looking for trees we can plant with non-invasive roots near our pool. We don't want them to get too big (about 10 feet) because we don't want them to shade out our pool. We also don't want...
view the full question and answer

Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
May 06, 2009 - I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if th...
view the full question and answer

Damaged Shumard oak tree in Polk County Texas
July 24, 2010 - I have a native Shumard Red Oak on our property in Polk County Texas that suffered damage (top blown out) during Hurricane Ike. Last year, one side of the tree browned early while the other side stay...
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