Christmas Trees of the Southwest

Written by on December 25, 2016 in The Southwest - Comments Off on Christmas Trees of the Southwest

Blue Spruce Forest
If you are looking for the perfect Christmas tree, look no farther than the Christmas Trees of the Southwest on the nearest mountain slope in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico or Arizona. Dressed in mantles of white during the winter months, the majestic blue spruce march down mountainsides and soar from valley floors, creating the perfect Christmas Card setting for anyone who cares to take a drive on snowy roads and enjoy the trees in their natural settings.

Native only to six states in the Unites States — Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho — the blue spruce is typically found in the mountains at elevations between 6,000 to 11,000 feet throughout the Southwest. The tree, with its silvery blue needles, also happens to be such a popular choice for a Christmas tree that it has been transplanted successfully to tree farms in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and Maine, where it has escaped into the wilds. It can and has been transplanted successfully all over the country and is widely used as an ornamental tree.

The blue spruce (Picea Pungens Engelm) has the ability to withstand huge temperature extremes. With a long life span, the tree also grows very slowly. While it can reach heights up to 100 feet tall, growing at around 1 foot or less per year, it may take 100 years or more to reach that gigantic status. The trees can live to be more than 600 years old!

Around 20 years of age, the blue spruce begins to produce seeds, with maximum seed output occurring between 50 – 150 years of age. The cones drop to the ground and the seeds will germinate when conditions are right — specifically on exposed mineral soil that is shaded but has some overhead light. However, the trees typically encourage dense undergrowth below their canopy, which often block their own seeds from germinating.

Luckily for those of us who love our picture perfect Christmas card scenes, blue spruce make poor lumber since the wood is brittle and often full of knots, meaning that it is seldom logged in any of the Rocky Mountain states.

These majestic soaring pines so inspired the early settlers that the blue spruce was selected as the state tree for both Utah and Colorado.

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