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

Lack of fruit on Texas persimmon
July 08, 2008 - I have several Texas Persimmons on my property, most have nodules covering most of the leaves that I am presuming to be insect eggs. Between my neighbor and I we have over a dozen of these tress grow...
view the full question and answer

What will grow under neighbor's overhanging tree in Grosse Pointe Woods MI
May 29, 2011 - My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that is easily 60 years old and thus not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for me the roots of this tree have extended under a large corner of my back yard. Add...
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing elm species from volunteers in yard
April 10, 2008 - What's the best way to distinguish young elm tree species apart from one another? We have a bunch coming up in our yard and we're trying to figure out if they are Winged, Cedar or American. Some of ...
view the full question and answer

Fruit-bearing crabapple for Austin, TX
January 07, 2007 - Is there a fruitbearing crabapple that will live in Austin. If so, what soil type is required?
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screening of House Next Door in NC
June 26, 2013 - Hello, I live in the house my parents bought in 1971 in Winston-Salem, NC. The house beside me is an eyesore and for sale at a very low price. I am afraid the condition of the house and yard next door...
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