Colorado Blue Spruce
Words & Photography by Jacalyn Beales
Growing up, I can distinctly recall the small Blue Spruce growing idly in our front yard, its rich, blue needles standing stark among the other tall, billowing Evergreens on our property. Spring time saw rabbits nesting beneath the fluffy branches of needles which would hang low to the ground, the lone Blue Spruce acting as both a shelter and a playground for the young kits who would hop to and from the tree when they believed no one was watching. As I grew, so did the Spruce, its body now standing over 30 feet tall, still watching over our yard. In the Winter, its beautiful blue hues contrast fantastically with the snow, the sparkling white causing the Spruce to appear almost as though it were alive.
Native to North America, and more popularly known as Colorado Blue Spruce, Blue Spruce trees are often sought after for their adaptive qualities; they are extremely versatile trees capable of withstanding varied climates, and are typically planted in front of homes to block wind. A type of Evergreen, the Blue Spruce can range in colour from deep, aqua blue to a silver-like blue, but their colouring is more unique than we perhaps assume it to be. The range of blue colouring these trees possess is due to the presence of epicuticular waxes that coat the needles and which reflect specific wavelengths of light. The more wax the needles have, the more blue the needles will be, or the more glaucous the tree is. Environmental factors, genetics, and age all play a role in the vibrance of a Blue Spruce’s needle colouring, but the waxes are ultimately responsible for the transpiration and absorbance of UV light.
I am fortunate to live near many trails and wilderness areas where Blue Spruce abound, their tall, wide bodies reaching up as if to touch the sky. Some are a deep, bold blue whilst others appear more silver and almost ice-like in colour, if ice could somehow be blue. On one particular trail, I can walk among a see of grey Blue Spruce whose branches seem to ripple with the wind, their deep, teal colouring changing from blue to silver in the blink of an eye. Of all the trees, I love Blue Spruce the most, and believe there’s something magical about a peak of blue standing out among a sea of Evergreens.