USA Official State Tree of Colorado

Blue SpruceTree, a state symbol

(Pinaceae Picea pungens)
Adopted on March 7, 1939



The Colorado Blue Spruce, Pinaceae Picea pungens, was adopted as the official state tree on March 7, 1939, by a resolution of the General Assembly. The Colorado Blue Spruce also called Colorado blue spruce, Colorado spruce, silver spruce, and pino real was first discovered on Pikes Peak in 1862 and named by botanist C.C. Parry. This tree is known for its stately, majestic, symmetrical form and its beautiful silver-blue color.




In Colorado, it grows in small, scattered groves or singly among ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, alpine fir and Englemann spruce. In the northern parts of its range it grows at the 6,000 to 9,000 feet elevation while in the southern parts of its range at 8,000 to 11,000 feet. Its color ranges from green to blue to silver, and is sometimes called the silver spruce. Colorado school children voted on Arbor Day in 1892 to name the blue spruce as the state tree, however it was not until 1939 that the Colorado Blue Spruce was officially designated. Citation: House Joint Resolution 7, 1939.


It is a slow-growing, long-lived tree of medium size that, because of its symmetry and color, is planted extensively as an ornamental. Because blue spruce is relatively scarce and the wood is brittle and often full of knots, it is not an important timber tree.

  • Leaf: Evergreen, stiff, 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch long, yellow-green to bluish or white. Needles are very sharp, and have an acidic taste.
    Flower: Monoecious; males yellow-brown to purple, scattered throughout trees; females purple, upright, in tops of the trees.
  • Fruit: Cones are 2 to 4 inches long, cylindrical, light brown in color. Cone scales are pointed with jagged-erose margins. Maturing in autumn.
  • Twig: Stout (when compared to other spruces), hairless, orange-brown. Needles are borne on woody pegs. Bud scales are noticeably reflexed.
  • Bark: Gray to red-brown, young trees with small, thin scales - older trees developing furrows.
  • Form: A medium to large tree with pyramidal form. Branches appear layered, especially with age.
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Coniferophyta – Conifers
Class Pinopsida –
Order Pinales –
Family Pinaceae – Pine family
Genus Picea A. Dietr. – spruce
Species Picea pungens Engelm. – blue spruce


Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture