October 3, 2022 The Colorado state tree, the Blue Spruce, is known for its magnificent form and stunning silvery-blue hues, but its rich history and value make this tree more significant than many people know. Characteristics of the Colorado Blue Spruce Blue spruce trees have thick, scaley bark that appears a gray-brown color. Their evergreen needles are shades of blue and pale green with silvery highlights. Needles are long, stiff, and extremely sharp. During late summer and early fall, Blue Spruce trees produce cylindrical cones that may be green, orange, or purple. In addition, these trees grow to a height typically between 50-75 feet but can grow as tall as 150 feet. Their trunks typically grow to a diameter of around 5 feet. They are extremely resilient and live between 150 and 600 years! History of the Colorado Blue Spruce In 1862, surgeon and botanist Charles Parry set out to explore the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. On this expedition, he discovered the magnificent, silvery-blue tree that is now known as the Colorado Blue Spruce tree. School children of the state voted to pronounce the Blue Spruce as the state tree on Arbor Day in 1892. The tree was officially adopted as Colorado’s state tree on March 7, 1939, by a resolution of the Colorado General Assembly. Wildlife Value of the Colorado Blue Spruce Various species of Colorado wildlife depend on Blue Spruce trees. They provide food for a variety of birds, including nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees. Browsers, such as deer, often eat the tree’s foliage. In addition, their long branches with thick needles provide shelter and shade for native animals. They are a preferred spot for roosting, nesting, and winter shelter. Uses of the Colorado Blue Spruce In addition to providing benefits to wildlife, these trees are used for medicinal and nutritional purposes. The Keres and Navajo Native tribes use an infusion of the Blue Spruce needles for curing colds, stomach problems, and rheumatic pains. These tribes also use the twigs of the tree as a good luck charm. In addition, this tree is commonly used during the holiday season. Their stunning form and glistening colors make Blue Spruces a great option for Christmas trees or as ornamentals. Ideal Conditions for the Colorado Blue Spruce The Colorado Blue Spruce can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2-7. They thrive in well-drained, sandy soils, moist bottomlands, or along mountain streams. Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight every day. Care And Maintenance of the Colorado Blue Spruce Consistent monitoring for pest infestations is essential when maintaining these trees, as they are prone to problems with spider mites and pine needle weevils. Severe infestations may result in yellowed dots, lead discoloration, and defoliation. Needles often drop, and the pests’ feeding may cause unsightly cankers. Therefore, it is vital to look out for these signs. Interesting Facts About the Colorado Blue Spruce The Blue Spruce happens to be the state tree of two states – Colorado and Utah. Its Latin name ‘pungens’ means sharp and pointy, referring to the Blue Spruce needles. Sometimes, these trees have a wax layer that causes the bluish tones of the needles. The color is susceptible to decay due to pest infestation. Usually, the tree grows around 12 inches in a year, but in optimum conditions, it can grow up to 2 feet in a single year! If you enjoyed learning about the Colorado state tree, you may be interested in partnering with Front Range Arborists for your landscape care needs. We strive to provide quality tree and shrub care in the Colorado Springs area, and our reliability and quality of work are second to none! We will create a detailed estimate for all tree and shrub services to be performed on your valued landscape. Fill out our online form to request your free estimate today!