Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 11, 2005

From: Phillipsburg, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Questioning native status of Alberta Spruce in New Jersey
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am in the process of transforming my yard to native plants. Several years ago I planted a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. I want to be sure this isn't native before I remove it but haven't been able to find anything to confirm this. Could you please verify it isn't native before I dig it up.

ANSWER:

 

First, we commend you for your laudable efforts to create a native plant garden! The question of nativity comes up often and in cases like the one you're asking about the question can be difficult.

 

In a strict sense, Dwarf Alberta Spruce is not remotely native to your area; in a less strict sense, it comes close. Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Picea glauca 'Conica', is a cultivar of White Spruce, Picea glauca. It was discovered and collected near Lake Laggan, Alberta, Canada in 1904 by Alfred Rehder and J.G. Jack, two Arnold Arboretum botanists. They brought the plant back to Boston, found it easy to propagate and released it to the nursery trade a few years later. Dwarf Alberta Spruce and its many progeny have become very important components of the landscaper's palette.

 

In theory at least, Dwarf Alberta Spruce could have arisen and been discovered at any place within its broad range which sweeps across the extreme northern United States and most of Canada. If it had been discovered at the southeastern edge of the species' range in Pennsylvania or New York, you might consider it to be "very nearly native" to New Jersey. So if your garden is to include only those plants native to New Jersey, then it's not a good choice for you. If your criteria are less exacting, let's say the native species of the northeastern US, then Picea glauca will certainly work for you, if not Picea glauca 'Conica'. Finally, if you wish to exclude cultivars of northeastern US native plant species that actually arose in western Canada, then I'm afraid that Dwarf Alberta Spruce will have no place in your garden.

 

More Trees Questions

Viability of Cupressus macrocarpa in Arvada, Colorado
October 06, 2008 - Can I plant lemon cypress in Arvada CO, zone 5, as landscaping plant? Can't find zone information.
view the full question and answer

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
view the full question and answer

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Time to transplant shade tree seedlings from San Antonio
September 28, 2013 - What month do you transplant shade tree seedlings in San Antonio, TX<
view the full question and answer

Can poisonous seed of wild plum be safely removed after steaming from Seymour IA
June 20, 2013 - I read on a related questions that you said the pit/seeds of all wild plums are poisonous. My question is this, can I juice the entire fruit for making jelly without removing the pit first? I have a s...
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.