If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’ve seen your fair share of spruce trees. The stately evergreens are ubiquitous across the region, the whorled branches making up large swaths of picturesque forests. Humans have long been enamored by the spruce, featuring them on medieval coats of arms and other works of art. In the modern world, many families add a stately spruce to their living rooms in the winter for some yuletide cheer.
Popular in both public parks and home gardens, spruce trees are widely employed by gardeners across the world. Planting a spruce on your property will bring it’s charm to your home all year long.
One of the biggest cause of interest is the wide selections of varietals that exist. Each kind has its own appeal and advantages, but which one should you choose? At Mr. Tree, we’re happy to provide some insight to help make your decision. Here are a few of the most common spruce trees to plant:
Native to the Pacific Northwest, the Sitka spruce loves the mild weather and high rainfall. The third-tallest growing tree in the world, one specimen even once held the distinction of the tallest tree in America.
It’s tall, straight trunk leads up to a conical crown, branches reaching out at horizontal angles. As the tree grows larger, its characteristic flared base becomes more apparent. The needles can range in color from light green to bluish-green and are stiff and prickly. Small cones dangle from the crown, and the scaly bark can be anywhere from dark brown to purple-grey.
People have found many uses for the Sitka spruce throughout history. It was one of the most important trees to the logging industry that helped put the Pacific Northwest on the map. To this day, it’s used for lumber and crafting, particularly for items that need to be both lightweight and sturdy.
It’s acoustic properties also make it a preferred material for various musical instruments and; local Native Americans used the Sitka spruce in various religious functions believing it could ward off evil.
The blue spruce is one of the most visually striking types of spruce trees to plant on your property. Famed for its namesake blue needles, this tree varietal has been widely cultivated across North America. While it can grow upwards of seventy feet in the wild, it will typically reach about fifty feet when planted in your yard.
On this spruce, stiff branches stick out at horizontal angles, creating distinct patterns of shoots. Bark on the trunk is grey, while the branches tend toward a yellowish-brown hue. It’s waxy needles grow radially outward from the shoots and while most shades are blue, green ones exist as well.
Varietals of the blue spruce are extremely popular in both parks and gardens. Horticulturists love this spruce for its color and strong, conical shape. It’s also frequently used in more arid climates as windbreaks and it has strong resistance to cold climates, making it a mainstay in regions where winters can be exceedingly harsh.
While it is favored by people in many parts of North America, it is perhaps loved most in Colorado where it is the state tree.
As the name implies, the Norway spruce is not one of the types of spruce trees native to the Pacific Northwest, but since it was brought across the ocean, this tree type has thrived along the Northern regions of America.
The Norway spruce grows fast when young, slowing as it reaches around 60 feet tall. The needles are dark green, blunter and more pliable than other spruces. Its cones start green, growing redder and browner as they mature. Interestingly enough, the Norway spruce also has the largest seed cones of any spruce.
The Norway spruce is one of the most widespread types of spruce trees in the world. In addition to its use in logging, the Norway spruce is used extensively in gardens and parks.
Every year during the holiday season, the Norwegian government sends a Norwegian spruce to Washington DC, Edinburgh, and London in commemoration of the aid given during World War II. This well-traveled tree will certainly add an air of distinction to your property.
The white spruce is native to the boreal forests of North America. While originally from Alaska, it is now commonly seen throughout the Northern U.S.
Its long, thin needles can be anywhere from green to light blue in color. The crown of the white spruce is narrow, leading to a conic or cylindrical shape depending on the age of the tree. The slender cones have thin scales, going from green to light brown as they grow.
If you’re looking to add a certain degree of elegance to your property, the weeping white spruce might be the tree for you. This varietal was initially discovered in Versailles, but was quickly popularized in North America. The deep bluish-green needles hang off low swooping branches centered around a strong central trunk. The structure gives it a distinctive conical appearance, used by many gardeners to add drama. This unique shape also makes it valuable when space is limited as it retains its narrow shape even as the trunk grows taller.
The Engelmann spruce is heavily found throughout both the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges. Tall and thin with a pointed crown, the larger branches lower on the tree tend to droop down. The needles are sharp, sticking out from all sides of a branch from wooden pegs that remain after the needles have fallen. Its bark is thin and grey and it’s purple-brown cones hang from its higher branches. Engelmann spruce is most comfortable in high altitude, mountainous regions. Given the right conditions, it can grow quite large.
Like other types of spruce trees, the Engelmann spruce is used for lumber, paper, musical instruments, in addition to horticulture. Native American tribes also used it’s bark and roots to make baskets and canoes. It is named for the nineteenth-century botanist George Engelmann, who was instrumental in documenting the flora of Western North America.
There are plenty of gorgeous spruces to choose from, but we’re confident you’ll be able to find the right tree for your property. And if you ever need any advice or tree maintenance assistance, the Mr. Tree team is only a phone call away.