Some conifers I absolutely fall in love with upon my first encounter with them. Others, I may have an appreciation for, but they just don’t do anything for me – at first. Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ is one of those trees that I have been truly enjoying in my garden for the past few years; now that it has put on some size and is maturing nicely.
‘Acrocona’ is a very unique Norway Spruce. It has prolific cone production at a very young age that initially interested me in the plant. Unfortunately, that same characteristic is what makes the young plant a little bit of an aesthetic challenge since it can cause unusual and erratic looking growth. What makes ‘Acrocona’ genuinely unusual is the way it develops its new cones each year. Some cones begin to form early in spring on last year’s branches. This would be considered “normal” for Norway Spruce. What’s unusual is that ‘Acrocona’ also develops cones on the terminal ends of the current seasons new growth; not on all the new growth, but frequently on what would be the central leader of the tree and its surrounding upper branches.
The cones, wherever they are produced are a brilliant reddish pink color that really stands out against the dark green of the older foliage. The period that new cones are developed begins in early spring and continues for quite some time as new growth emerges with new cones developing at the tips.
My ‘Acrocona’ has been putting on a show of cones for several weeks now with the oldest ones beginning to lose their red color and tiny new cones just now emerging at the ends of new growth. As ‘Acrocona’ matures, it forms a very nice broad pyramidal shape with branches that are somewhat weeping and bounce in a slight breeze due to the heavy cones on their ends. During spring, the combination of reddish new cones and the new flush of bright green foliage make a beautiful show for several weeks. As the foliage hardens to dark green and the cones dry to a light brown, the tree becomes a stately specimen in the summer garden.
Truly a great find that may begin as a bit of an “ugly duckling,” this tree matures beautifully and deserves a place in every garden.
Thanks to Iseli Nursery for the photo links!