One of the great native trees to my area in the Pacific Northwest is the Sitka Spruce. Picea sitchensis is the largest growing of the spruce family and has a history rich in the folklore of the native peoples in this area. One very large old specimen near the Oregon Coast had been known as the largest Sitka Spruce in the United States until the storm of December 2, 2007 brought the tree down. It was reported to be 200 feet tall and estimated to be 500 to 750 years old. A beautiful forest tree, but a little too large for the average home garden, Picea sitchensis has “mothered” slower growing cultivars that are more garden friendly.
Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’ is one dwarf form of the Sitka Spruce worthy of a place in any garden. Its needles are bi-colored giving the overall plant a nice blue-green appearance. Upon closer inspection the bi-color nature of the needles is revealed. Be careful, those needles are very sharp to the touch. When the new growth emerges, the outer sides of the needles are visibly bright green. As the foliage matures and hardens through the season, the green color becomes darker and the needles expand and curve outward exposing their waxy coating on the undersides giving a bluish appearance. Growing only 2-3 inches per year, ‘Papoose’ remains compact and tidy in the garden. The beautiful specimen pictured here is approximately seven feet tall, eight feet wide and nearly thirty years old.
Thanks to my friends at Iseli Nursery for the photo links.