The state tree of Kansas is the cottonwood, but certain species of spruce trees (Picea spp.) are just as common throughout the state. The hardier spruce tree varieties are the most popular in Kansas, many of which are planted in the state as ornamental landscape trees. With their attractive needle foliage and often rich colors, spruce trees make for excellent year-round landscape specimens. Three types of spruces are found growing in Kansas, including the blue, Norway and white spruce trees.
The blue spruce (Picea pungens), also called the Colorado blue spruce, is known for its beautiful silvery, bluish-green foliage and is one of the most popular evergreen trees. Growing 50 to 75 feet tall with a 25-foot spread, the blue spruce has a conical to columnar shape and produces light-brown, cones that grow downward from the upper branches and reach 3 to 4 inches in length. Native to the Rocky Mountains, the blue spruce is a common ornamental conifer in Kansas, attracting songbirds and other wildlife. The blue spruce tree prefers to grow in full sunlight and moist, well-draining soils, but it has some tolerance to drought conditions and flooding.
The Norway spruce (Picea abies) is also found growing throughout Kansas, reaching 40 to 60 feet in height with a 25-to-30-foot spread and pyramidal shape. This fast-growing spruce has dark-green needle foliage growing from elegant but strong branches. Also attracting songbirds and other desirable wildlife, the Norway spruce is often planted in landscapes as a windbreak. The Norway spruce produces brown, elongated to oval cones, which are 4 to 6 inches long cones. This spruce tree thrives in full sunlight and can grow in a wide range of soil types.
Found in Kansas and throughout the northern United States, the white spruce (Picea glauca) is a tall, slender conifer with a columnar shape and downward-hanging cones. The white spruce the same height as the Norway spruce, but it grows to only 20 feet wide at most. This spruce tree also prefers full sunlight but can grow in a wide range of soils. White spruce trees provide nesting sites for many species of birds, and many different kinds of wildlife feed on the foliage and seeds contained in its cones.