Today’s photo and write-up are from Eric La Fountaine.
Picea wilsonii or Wilson’s spruce is endemic to north and central China. It can grow to 50 metres and forms a pyramid shaped crown. In China the trees are used in forestation projects and cultivated for timber. Picea wilsonii makes a good ornamental planting. It is a hardy dense evergreen tree with fine foliage.
I was initially attracted to the bright green buds and reddish immature male cones seen in the first photo, but when I made the treck to the other side of the tree (the tree is actually planted outside the garden and I had to go around a fence) I found the rich reddish-purple seed cones forming, shown in the second photo. Beautiful, but the description in the Flora of China indicates, “Seed cones green, maturing yellow-brown or pale brown…” Several specimens of this accession grown from a lot of seed collected in the wild in Sichuan grow in the David C. Lam Asian Garden. I questioned Douglas Justice, Curator of Collections about this cone colouration and we went out to investigate. Cones on the other plants ranged from green barely tinted red to mixed green and purple, shown in the third and fourth photos. These cones are just forming and I believe they will mature to the usual pale green and brown later in the season.