Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'
Common Name: Colorado spruce
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 7.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade. Prefers rich, moist soils. Although established plants have some drought tolerance, soils should be kept consistently moist and not allowed to dry out in the early years. Generally prefers cool climates and will struggle in the heat and humidity of the deep South.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Picea pungens, commonly called Colorado spruce (also blue spruce), is a medium to large, narrow, pyramidal conifer with horizontal branching to the ground. It typically grows 30-60’ tall in cultivation, but may reach 100’ or more where it grows naturally. It is native to the central Rocky Mountains from southern Montana and eastern Idaho south to New Mexico where it is typically found growing in moist locations from 6000 to 11000 feet in elevation. Stiff, bristly, four-angled, green to blue-green to silver-blue needles (to 1.5” long) point outward from the branches in all directions. Cylindrical light brown cones (to 4” long) have flexible scales. Dark gray bark furrows on mature trees. From a horticultural standpoint, trees with blue or silver blue foliage are generally more coveted than trees with green foliage.

Genus name is reportedly derived from the Latin word pix meaning pitch in reference to the sticky resin typically found in spruce bark.

Specific epithet means sharp-pointed in reference to the needles.

'Fat Albert' is noted for its (a) dense, broad, upright pyramidal shape (a perfect cone), (b) closely-spaced, ascending branches and (c) steel blue needle color. Grows slowly (12"+ per year) to 10-15' tall (typically 10' by 7' in 10 years). Oblong cones (2-4" long) are greenish when young, maturing to light brown. This cultivar (introduced in the late 1970s by Iseli Nursery) was named after comedian Bill Cosby's fictional character of the same name.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problem. Susceptible to needle cast, canker and rust. Watch for aphids (particularly spruce gall aphids), scale, budworms and bagworms. Spider mite invasions can cause significant problems with new growth and overall tree health.

Garden Uses

Excellent specimen. Also effective in groups. Foundation plantings. Borders.