Description: This is a form of White Spruce which is native to Canada and the northeastern United States. This form was found by Dr. A. Rehder and J. G. Jack in the Canadian Rockies near Lake Laggan, Alberta in 1904. Dwarf Alberta is a very tight, conical, slow-growing tree. It is very common in the trade and it seems to me that some different forms are showing up from different sources. Some clones are very tight and in 10 years will probably not reach a height of more than 30 inches and a width of 10 to 12 inches. Other forms seem to be faster growing and slightly more open, and in 10 years will probably be at least 3 feet tall (1 gallon 4 years old and 2 gallon – 5 to 6 years old). This might be caused by the area on a stock plant that cuttings are taken from. The terminal cuttings produce a faster growing, more open plant. Whereas cuttings taken from the side and lower parts of an older plant would produce a tighter, heavier plant. The ones that we grow here at Summer Hill tend to be full and very heavy.
The plants from which we take our cuttings are scarcely 8 feet tall at an age of 35 years. These are the original cuttings I received from Dick Walter, Sr. of Maplewood, New Jersey, my first winter in business. When he visited us for the first time a few years ago, he was impressed with this planting of Alberta Spruce which we have behind our home. While looking at the 8 foot tall trees, I got a kick out of telling him that the last time he saw them he had held them all in one hand.
Picea glauca ‘Conica’ is extremely susceptible to hot, dry conditions, and an infestation of mites can turn it brown in 3 to 4 days. However, planted in the right location with someone checking it occasionally for mite infestation during the hot weather, it is one of our most select and desirable dwarf (really semi-dwarf) conifers.
Occasionally someone will see Picea glauca albertiana listed in a catalog and think they are getting Dwarf Alberta Spruce at a very reasonable price. However, P. glauca ‘Conica’ should not be confused with P. glauca albertiana which is a much faster growing variety of White Spruce, very similar to the Black Hill form.