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Trees of Wisconsin

Picea pungens Engelmann
blue spruce
Family: Pinaceae

Blue Tree Blue Branch Blue Twig Blue Cone Blue Cone Scales Blue Bark
tree branch twig with sterigmata cone cone scales bark

Picea pungens is strictly a cultivated species in Wisconsin. It does not escape from cultivation and is found only where it has been planted. It is included in the list of gymnosperms because it is a very common horticultural species in Wisconsin and because it (along with Pinus nigra, Pseudotsuga menziesii and Taxus cuspidata) is a useful addition to the small list of native species of gymnosperms, for teaching purposes.

Picea pungens can be recognized as a spruce by the sharp-pointed needles (1.6-3.0 cm long), 4- angled and nearly square in cross-section and attached to woody projections of the twig known as sterigmata. It lacks the hairy twigs of P. mariana and has much longer cones than P. mariana. It can be distinguished from the other spruces in Wisconsin by the unique cones 6-11 cm long, the wrinkled, papery scales with erose (irregularly, toothed) tips. Leaves are often a pronounced blue-green, but this is not a reliable key character in itself. There are cultivars of P. pungens that are not blue-green in color, and there are individuals of Picea glauca for which the new growth is strongly blue green.





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