Meyer Spruce (picea meyeri)

basic(Z4a)April 7, 2008

I'm looking for an alternative to P. pungens and/or P. glauca, and was wondering if anyone has experience with this exotic spruce? Information is a bit tough to come by, but a couple of sites report it being very similar in appearance to Blue Spruce, but with greater disease resistance. Is this an accurate portrayal?

I'm thinking of buying several (plant band size) and planting out in a relatively isolated area on the property (i.e. little or no watering) for potential use as Christmas Trees. Will this spruce handle light, sandy soils? How about tolerance for drought? Would it make a good Christmas tree?

Thanks!

Bob

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pineresin

No particular reason it should be more disease resistant, except perhaps against any Picea pungens specialists that have expanded in a big way to make use of an enlarged food base.

Should be among the more drought resistant of spruces.

Resin

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:02AM
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basic(Z4a)

Hi Resin,

Actually, I'm more interested in finding something approximating the blue foliage of CBS than I am concerned about disease resistance, especially since these would be used for Christmas trees and harvested at a relatively young age. Some (too many) CBS in these parts are denuded of lower branches by cytospora canker and look horrible. However, this normally takes place after they've achieved some size (i.e. around 20 years old?).

Firs make superior Christmas trees IMO, mainly due to needle retention, but also softness of foliage. Unfortunately, our soils are not conducive to growing Abies. I'm experimenting with a few different species, but I doubt any will be long lived, even with supplemental watering when young. Do all spruce tend to quickly shed needles after being cut? Are there any that behave like Firs in this regard?

Bob

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 12:56PM
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hanklin(6b)

Hi Bob,
? A little too much clay for Abies? I'm on the edge of too much humidity, temperature, low altitude, and too much conservatism. I'm trying a number of species and so far I've been lucky with climate for the past several years (9).
The only tree I have ever had a complaint with as far as needle drop has been Norway spruce. I sell CB, Norway, and Serbian spruces as well as 7 other trees. The complaints have been less than 1 percent. 1 two years ago. I make a point of discussing this problem with each Norway purchaser. If you cut in the month of December or late Nov. there should be no problem with anything.
Your conditions are very different from mine but but but I have never been able to kill a Concolor.
.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 6:49PM
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basic(Z4a)

"...and too much conservatism."

Are you saying people in your neck of the woods are too conservative to try Firs? What's a matter with 'em!?!

As far as our soil conditions, too dry and hot for most Abies. My species White Fir (A. concolor) suffered severe winter burn and is unlikely to survive. This was a bad year for burn all around, but Concolor suffered the most. On the other hand, A. concolor 'Candicans', which is no more than 15' away (same conditions) doesn't have any damage. Would the wax coating providing the blue coloration prevent this? I also noted the glaucas A. lasiocarpa var. Arizonica didn't suffer any burn. Nor did A. koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke', while the two seedling koreana suffered moderate damage. Mmmm... The rest of my Abies are at the base of a north facing slope and they are burn free.

Bob

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 7:45PM
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hanklin(6b)

Bob,
As far as I know, there is no one else east of the Blue Ridge mountains growing firs to sell. I expect to be corrected and then I'll know for sure. North and south of me the distance is at least 50 miles. I am against Blue mountain at Linden. So far fraser, nordman, concolor, lasiocarpa are doing ok. It seems that they do best on the roughest, steepest, most gravelely ground. My altitude is about 800 feet and I'm against the eastern slope of that mountain. I feel a bit strange discussing this with someone in 4b zone but anyway.. Hank

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 8:24PM
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wisconsitom

Hi Bob. Tom from clear across the state here. Sorry A. concolor doesn't thrive where you are. They seem to like it just fine over here, suffering only from a general lack of awareness by the public that they exist. Now, our soils are about as unlike each other as could be. We're in clay-based stuff. Interesting comments as to the apparent greater suitability of the "candicans" for you. I've got no proof, but your hypothesis makes sense.
The meyeri I've not seen, as far as I'm aware, but from your description of what you might try, sounds like you could be ordering from Itasca. Just curious-have you done business with them before? and if so, what are your impressions of their stock and styroblock system of growing?

Best of luck.........+oM

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 9:30PM
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basic(Z4a)

Tom--Yes, Itasca it is. No, I've never done business with them, but I'm going to try and arrange a visit the next time I'm in that part of MN. I'll start small with this; probably place an initial order of 100. They've also Korean Fir & Siberian Fir in plant bands, and if all goes well I may give these a try as well.

Hank--I'm very familiar with the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We've vacationed out there a couple of times and its absolutely gorgeous. How far are you from the VA arboretum? Have you ever been to the little German restaurant just outside Staunton? My wife got crazy there one evening, standing on a chair and swinging a towel in the air while two dudes in lederhosen played German drinking songs around her. It was a great time, but got a little out of hand. But hey, that's what vacations are for. :)

Bob

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:19AM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

I planted one Meyeri Spruce several years ago and the main difference I have noted is that is seems to grow much slower than picea Pungens. Maybe 50-70% of the rate of a blue spruce. David

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:31PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

basic- I am very surprised to hear that Wisconsin is too hot and dry for white fir. Wisconsin is moist and cool compared to where I am, and there are a few 60 foot tall A. concolors in town in this area- where I live forests occurs only in the river floodplains, thatÂs how harsh it is, but A. concolor survives no problem. I will post a picture later, but I think you just have specimens from a improper province!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 3:41PM
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basic(Z4a)

Fledge,

The hot, dry conditions prohibit me from growing the native Balsam Fir and others requiring cool, moist conditions. A. concolor will definitely grow here, and there are some fine specimens in the area. However, my experience thus far (very limited at that) is that it needs protection from winter sun and wind. I'll keep trying with White Fir 'til I get it right.

Bob

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:07PM
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wisconsitom

Fledg, Wisconsin, like most states, has significant variation in weather, and especially soil, from one area to another. I am familiar with the part of the state where Bob resides, and it is VERY different than where I live, or even more so, where I own land, about 60 miles N. of here.

Also, drought has been merciless the last few years. This Winter, we had a lot of snow, and now, the heavy precipitation pattern is continuing. I like rain and snow and I really hope this signals a return to moister conditions. We've had rain and snow mixed, sometimes with thunder and lightening, for what seems like weeks now. It's pretty durned cool for this time of year, but I like this much better than the freakishly warm/hot Springs of the last two years.

+oM

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 10:14PM
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wisconsitom

Yes I know-bad form to resurrect an old thread like this, but there's method to my madness. To wit: Basic, if you're still around, I'd like to hear how things are going in your quest for blue-green spruce or fir that can handle some summertime humidity. Any new developments? And-again, if you see this-we had a discussion recently about Siberian spruce-Picea obovata-which led to the grafted 'glauca' variants of that species. They looked great in the pictures I saw, which were Iseli pics, so would look great. But my point is, I'm inquiring of Bill Sayward (Itasca) right now if he has any awareness of a seed strain or should I say, a land race, of P. obovata tending towards this blueish needle color. For guys like me, that would be a home run!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 11:06AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I'm not sure resin's 2008 premise that there's "no reason" for the Asian spruce(s) to be more disease resistant holds the proverbial water. Lots of other Asian plants are more disease resistant in eastern North America, why would the spruce be any different?
According to this, (I guess you've seen this) it is more resistant: http://www.exoticconifer.com/news/Abies_vs_Picea.pdf

It looks more and more to me that, once you adjust for all other factors in a reasonable way - Asian trees and shrubs *usually* prove to be more adaptable than North American ones from very roughly similar climates. I'm 98% certain Abies fraseri would grow poorly for me, and I'm 100% certain Abies lasiocarpa would grow poorly for me (since 3 of them died in their first year, 1 in its second)...but Abies delavayi seems to be chugging right along. Yet I bet the area it comes from is less prone to possible hot dry spells than areas Abies fraseri is from. After all even western North Carolina can have droughts. OTOH the Asian monsoon has never not arrived.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 1:46PM
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wisconsitom

Interesting comments, davidrt. As to that assertion by resin....I'm just not sure. Bottom line though....I'm playing with acreage, not square feet, and the only person who has to like-or for that matter, tolerate-the end results is me. so if something's not quite right, it's okay, we'll fix it later. Somewhere today, probably Itasca's website, I was looking at photos of P. meyeri and they sure looked good. Then again, they are said to be on the slow-growing side, which doesn't thrill me, but I've got all kinds of fast-growers there.

I really like Dax's idea with the Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis. I'd been meaning to get some of those and plum forgot. I remember now! And like I said, I'm at the fun stage. I don't have to line up a crew of guys to help slam 6000 seedlings in the ground as I rent the planter and borrow busy farmer man's tractor. No, everything from here on out will be low numbers, hand planting, and little pockets. I'm even planning on putting in some honeyberry bushes. They look yummy!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 2:25PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis...is that the 'Midnight Steel' cultivar you're talking about? I remember liking that one.

One thing I noticed with Abies concolor is that the thicker needle cultivars don't burn quite as easily. I don't know if this is a function of seed source or what. I know the blue color is a function of seed source. Jason Hupp posted details at one point. Last year Abies concolor had significant burn on the fields of Jackson, WI and Waterloo, WI. My species plants (2 total) also had burn but not as bad as the pics I saw (even though my elevation is higher I might not have as much wind exposure). Though I noticed on my Abies concolor 'Compacta' (3 total) they had no damage and the difference is that they have thicker needles than my species plants.

Picea obovata 'Arctos' looks like a top notch plant. Iseli only released very large sizes this year. Expect to see more of this plant in the future.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 11:02AM
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wisconsitom

Yes, that P. obovata cultivar could be a great landscape plant indeed! What would turn my crank though would be for somebody to offer seed-grown plants of that species which had that kind of foliage. Everything I do has to be able to be replicated by nature once I'm dead and out of the picture....at least for it to really matter. But as a landscape plant, that could sure be a good one.

As far as Abies balsamea var. Phanerolepis, that is an actual species or subspecies, although I'm sure there's cultivars by now. Taxonomists don't all agree on the proper placement of A. balsamea, that plant, and A.fraseri. The treatment which makes the most sense to me is to consider phanerolepis to be a variant of balsamea, and for fraseri to be its own species. And again, in view of my comments in the birch thread you and I and some others are having over in "Trees", for the things I do, cultivars are of limited value. I don't want to just plant the trees, I want them to have the ability, or at least the possibility, of self-perpetuation at some point in the future. But for landscape plants, the cultivars can be great choices.

+oM

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 12:22PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

If you like blue conifers - and I generally do not - that's a mighty nice looking cultivar. (Picea obovata 'Arctos')
I would still wonder about this species being adaptable south of 40th parallel, in other words much south of Chicago. It seems like Picea meyeri would have a better chance of surviving prolonged, humid summers. At first glance it appears the related Picea abies (to P. obovata) is a paradox for being as happy right here in central MD as it is; but it has disjunct populations as far south as the Balkans and Romania. Sure, in the mountains, but I bet they can heat up at times with foehn-like effects. OTOH P. obovata's range seems to be on the fringes of subarctic areas where summers will always be cool and short.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 1:44PM
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wisconsitom

davidrt, not sure if the latitude comments are for me, but my plantation/woods is right on the 45th parallel.

+oM

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 2:35PM
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maackia

It has been like an odyssey finding my way to this site. I'd like to say it was like Inman finding his way back to Ada in Cold Mountain, but that would be a bit dramatic. I had completely forgot about this old post, but thanks for resurrecting it since I'm sort of back to square one. I've had many changes in my life since that post, but tree planting has not changed. :)

I don't know if P. obovata is hardy up here, but I've got to check it out closer after seeing that picture. I would agree that blue can be over done, and sometimes less is more, but I think it's possible to strike the right balance and really add some pop to the landscape. FWIW, the best blue I've got going is Abies lasiocarpa var. Arizonica. I planted one next to the garage entrance door where I walk just about every morning and it still makes me smile.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 8:29PM
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maackia

Maackia aka basic

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 8:29PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I always thought it was ex-maackia, but it looks like your ex-basic. ;-) Oh, wait, I'm thinking of_ex machina_.

tj

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 8:42PM
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wisconsitom

OK , good you're back, maackia! As far as the proper-whatever that means-role of glaucousness in the landscape (Is that even a word?), I prefer just an accent here and there, just as too much red/purple stuff detracts-not adds-in my opinion. Green is good, I certainly agree. One of the things I do want to end up with at my jungle is some blue-green against the deep moss-green of all the Norway spruce I've got up there, as well as the similarly-colored Thuja o's. So once again, to whack this poor dead horse one more time, a tree like P. obovata 'Arctos' would be dead-on, but I gotta have own-root, non-grafted stuff there, again, to feed my delusion that I'm effecting permanent change!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 5:56AM
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