We know how useful humans have found the Colorado Blue Spruce as artful landscape pieces or brightly decorated pillars of Christmas, but what role does it play in its own home? Let’s take a look at the primary environmental benefits of the blue spruce tree.
The Blue Spruce ecosystem
Just to put it into context, let’s do a quick overview of the ecosystem of the blue spruce itself. Picea pungens—the scientific name for the blue spruce—grows primarily in large conifer forests in the western United States. You already know that they’re found mostly in the Rocky Mountains, which puts them in both Colorado and Utah, and sparingly in New Mexico and Wyoming. They naturally grow in higher altitudes and can continue to thrive under and adapt to many different weather conditions.
The Blue Spruce as a habitat
Like other coniferous trees, the blue spruce offers surrounding organisms a safe dwelling and shelter. Many species of insect and worm live both in the trees and underneath them in their soil. In the soil those insects may share their home with certain fungi, such as the mycorrhizal fungi that attach themselves to the roots of the spruce.
They’re also a great place for birds to nest at higher altitudes and can provide protection and camouflage from larger predators; there’s even a bird named the Spruce Grouse. The foliage of the Blue Spruce can supply shelter to smaller game in high altitudes as well.
The Blue Spruce as a food source
You don’t think of a spruce tree as a particularly edible plant, but it contributes nutrients to a number of different organisms in its ecosystem. The buds and needles often feed small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits. Birds, such as the aforementioned spruce grouse, use it for sustenance as well.
While the Blue Spruce may not be able to produce fruit, it still produces seeds that grow into pine cones that serve as a major food source for surrounding organisms—again, particularly in small woodland creatures. There’s even some research that suggests spruce trees can share their own food supply with one another through a network of interconnected roots.
So there you have it; the Colorado Spruce is not just another pretty face. Although, they do make excellent additions to your back and front yard scenery. If you’re interested in the aesthetic attributes of spruce trees as well as their role in nature, check out Spruce Point Tree Farm and ask us what we can do to give your landscaping a nice “spruce!”