Picea wilsonii

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.

Picea wilsonii
Picea wilsonii purple cones
Picea wilsonii green cones
Picea wilsonii intermediate cones

18 responses to “Picea wilsonii”

  1. Marilyn Brown

    Beautiful, exciting photos ! Thank you again and again.

  2. Michael F

    Also note the way the needle below each side bud is at a different angle to the other needles – a character of Picea wilsonii and just a few other closely related spruces (Pp. obovata, morrisonicola, schrenkiana). Can be a very useful identification character.

  3. Dax H

    An interesting note Michael. That surely is something for me to easily remember. Thanks
    for the tip.

  4. Jane

    What lovely coloration. Thank you for sharing these beauties!

  5. Debby

    There is a trio of young spruce trees at the south end of the batting cage at Memorial Park West, Dunbar, Vancouver. They may not be Wilson’s, but they have beautiful bright green and red growth; the light shone through them and attracted my attention from the central path. I’ll go visit them again!

  6. cynthia farden

    Hi there. My hard drive crashed 2 weeks ago and because the PowerBook was old, I decided to get a new 17″ MBP. It arrived yesterday and I agonized over the glossy (as opposed to antiglare) display choice. But no longer! Your photos of Picea wilsonii are awesome on this screen, much more so than on my old PowerBook! Thanks for providing these to an eager public. As a grower and sometime hybridizer of orchids, I wonder if you have ever seen the orchid photos available through Troy Meyers Conservancy site, many of which are offered by Dale Borders, recognized worldwide for his orchid photography. Thanks, cynthia

  7. phillip

    wow…beautiful….such cute little bitty…cones..!

  8. Endang - Jakarta

    So beautiful indeed …. I wish we have this kind of plant here in Indonesia.
    Thank you for such beautiful pictures and information, as always.

  9. wendy

    This coloration I have seen in a tree tagged Picea orientalis var.aurea. Probably a more stable clone than these seed produced trees if one is seeking just this effect…

  10. Sara

    A self decorating Christmas tree! How cool is that?!

  11. Nipa


  12. Nancy Whitehead

    So, who is this species named for?

  13. elizabeth a airhart

    this is just a marvel
    i do not know who how the earth was made or
    plant life we share are space with but i am happy
    to share space with this beauty
    eric will bot of the day be off to china
    for the world epo
    thank you for shareing bonjour

  14. Michael F
  15. Ross Clark

    The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL) probably has at least one accession of wild-provenance Picea wilsonii. During a trip in fall 1990, we collected seeds of that species in northern Shanxi Province. Probably, some of the seeds were distributed to other institutions.

  16. Donna F Hamilton

    The lady is all dressed up with her purple beaded cones and ready to go out for the night! How lovely!

  17. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Very beautiful. I’m captivated by the common patterns found in nature — I think there’s a name for that, which I can’t think of now — e.g. the very similar patterns formed by branching trees and river tributaries, for instance. In the last photo above, the pattern of overlapping scales looks very much like the inside of an immature milkweed pod, with its tight bundle of overlapping seeds. Looks a bit like a fish, too.

  18. Rolf Jacobs

    I just bought a tree from Gee Farms called Picea pseudowilsoni. Can anyone tell me anything at all about this tree? I don’t know if it stays really small (under 25′) or gets huge. I’m in zone 5 just south of Youngstown, OH, and landscaping a trailer park I own.

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