Picea bicolor 'Howell's Dwarf'
Common Name: Alcock's spruce 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade. Best in cool summer climates, and will generally not perform well in the southeastern U.S. south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Picea bicolor (synonymous with Picea alcoquiana) is an evergreen conifer that is native to a limited but stable number of subalpine forest areas in the mountains of central Japan. It will grow over time to as much as 80' tall with a broad pyramidal form and spreading branches. It was collected by John Gould Veitch on an ascent of Mt. Fuji-yama in September of 1860. It was originally given the species name of alcoquiana and the common name of Alcock spruce in honor of Sir Rutherford Alcock (British minister to Tokyo from 1858 to 1862) who accompanied Veitch on the climb.

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 of two colors.

'Howell's Dwarf' is a spreading flat-topped form that will eventually develop a central leader unless the leader is pruned out. If the leader is retained, plants may grow in an irregular pyramidal form to 4-6' tall over the first 10 years and eventually mature to 20' tall or more. Without a leader, plants grow much shorter. Bicolor needles are green on top and silver-blue beneath. Cones emerge an attractive reddish-purple. 'Howell's Dwarf' is synonymous with 'Howell's Dwarf Tigertail'.


No serious insect or disease problems. Canker, wood decay, needle cast and rust may occur. Watch for aphids, scale, bagworms and mites.


Dwarf mounded evergreen for rock gardens, foundations or specimen/accent around the home.