Picea mariana/glauca 'Blue Teardrop'
'Blue Teardrop' and 'Beehive' Species
This morning I received an email from Edwin questioning the species of 'Blue Teardrop' and 'Beehive' since their names had come up on the Gardenweb. He pointed out some questioning features to me. So I went out and took some cuttings for comparison purposes. I have always had some issues distinguishing conifer species and could easily be in error.
Both plants originated from reversions on plants at Mitsch Nursery in the late 1980's. The plant John, and later myself, sold as Picea mariana 'Nana' had this nice blue reversion that I propagated and named 'Blue Teardrop'. At about the same time one of our Picea glauca 'Echiniformis' stock plants developed a reversion that I named Picea glauca 'Beehive'. Reversions were common on both of these species and usually just removed.
I had a number of people verify the species for me and kept them under those names. And this is the first time their species was ever questioned. I haven't propagated the 'Beehive' in almost ten years and the 'Blue Teardrop' has only been done intermittently over the same time span. Both are very nice plants but since I have over 1000 different cultivars in my collection I tended to overlook them at propagation time, especially since there wasn't any demand for either one (until recently).
Alan Mitchell was a good friend and pioneered the idea of scents to identify species. So I went to my wife, Dianne, whose sense of smell is much better than mine, to do some comparison smell tests. According to Alan, Picea mariana smells of menthol while glauce smells like "mouse" (I assume to be an earth smell). She verified that 'Blue Teardrop' smelled like Picea glauca 'Hudsonii' and that 'Beehive' had more of an earthy smell.
Then I checked a conifer species handbook that pointed out to me that Picea glauca has smooth bark on twigs while mariana has "hairy" bark. 'Blue Teardrop' is smooth while 'Beehive' is hairy.
So a correction is due: these two cultivars are actually Picea glauca 'Blue Teardrop' and Picea mariana 'Beehive'.