Picea pungens Engelm

Okay- it’s not exactly a native Alberta tree, but hey, we love it’s pyramidal shape and that cool blue shade, so here’s to the Colorado Blue Spruce.

Besides which, it lives for as long as six hundred years- three times the lifespan of the White Spruce in our back yard.  Doesn’t topple over as easily in a strong wind either. And it is resistant to drought, and cold to forty below.

Somewhere I must not have been paying attention in Biology class because I didn’t know until this year that spruce and pines and others of related ilk have both male and female cones.  I’ve sometimes seen the male pollen cones and wondered how those fragile things grew into the woody seed-bearing ones I recognized as mature cones.  The answer is- they don’t.  The males produce and disintegrate.  The female cones are tough and resilient and last.

And how can one be so unaware of cones on a tree, and why don’t Christmas trees come pre-decorated with the things?

Well,  Blue Spruce don’t start producing cones until they are about twenty years old, and they don’t hit full stride until they’re fifty. By then the cones are produced above eye level.  Female cones are produced on the top third of the tree, male cones are produced on the second third down, and we walk past the lower third.   Furthermore, only every second or third year is a good cone year.

Perhaps you are like me and have never thought much about Blue Spruce except for the colour.  Here are some pictures to start you looking.

Female cones on the top third

Female cones close up

Male Cones part way down

Just real true blue on the bottom


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