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15 Evergreen Trees in Colorado (Tall, Small & Narrow Types)


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Evergreen Trees are trees that retain their leaves throughout the year.

Mention of the state of Colorado brings to mind images of snow-peaked mountains, and streams lined with evergreen trees.

The main types of native evergreen trees found in CO can be grouped as Pines, Firs, Junipers, and Spruce.

However, there are many more evergreens you can plant in CO, where Colorado’s USDA planting and hardiness zones extend from the chilly 3a to the comparatively warmer 7a.

15 Excellent Evergreen Trees To Grow In Colorado

1. Alberta Spruce (Piceaglauca ‘Conica’)

Alberta Spruce
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Alberta Spruce is a coniferous evergreen with a classical pyramidal shape. This dwarf version grows very slowly; with increases of about 2-4 inches per year.

The needles are 2-4 inches long and have a wonderful aroma. The Alberta Spruce has a dense growth habit that does best in a northerly or easterly exposure.

The Alberta Spruce is best suited to areas with cold winters and coolish summer temperatures. Plant in well-drained moist, acidic soil.

Because of its dense foliage, it can trap moisture, so whilst it’ll tolerate some shade, it’s best to plant somewhere with good air circulation to avoid problems down the line.

Other Common Names: Dwarf White Spruce, White Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 3-13 ft tall and 2-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

2. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)

Austrian Pine
Image by Miltos Gikas via Flickr

The Austrian Pine is a hardy tree that can easily withstand city environments, including heat, drought, and air pollution. The needles are dark green in bundles of two and are slightly twisted.

They are 3-6 inches long and persist for 4-8 years, which provides the tree with a dense crown. The growth rate of the Austrian Pine is slow to medium, with increases of 13-24” a year.

The Austrian Pine will grow in alkaline, acidic, sandy, well-drained clay soils. Whilst it prefers average moisture levels, it’ll also tolerate some drought conditions.

It grows in an oval shape and works well as a windbreak. Birds and squirrels enjoy the seeds and owls favor the tree for shelter and nesting.

Other Common Names: European Black Pine, Australian Black Pine

Growing Zones: 4-7

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: May-June

3. Colorado Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)

Bristlecone Pine
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Colorado Bristlecone Pine can be found in the southern portion of the Rocky Mountains and is one of several pine trees that are native to CO has a strongly tapering and twisting trunk and a rounded, flattened irregular crown.

The bark is gray to reddish-brown and the contorted young branches resemble long bottlebrushes. The leaves are 5 per fascicle, upcurved and persist for 10-17 years, and are a deep blue-green color.

The seed cone of the Colorado Bristlecone Pine takes 2 years to mature. In the wild, you can find the Colorado Bristlecone Pine in the subalpine to montane zones of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Other Common Names: Rocky Mountains Bristlecone Pine, Foxtail Pine, Hickory Pine

Growing Zones: 3-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

4. Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Douglas Fir - Lyrae WIllis Photos
Images by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Douglas Fir is a conical-shaped, native evergreen tree with a fast growth rate. It’s extremely adaptable to different soil types and is very cold-tolerant. The cones of the Douglas Fir are 3-4” long and are surrounded by bracts that resemble mouse tails.

Douglas Fir grows in pure, even-aged stands, usually after fire. They can be found in a range of different situations, including open forests and areas with pinegrass and mossy understories.

The Douglas Fir has bluish-green or yellowish-green needles, depending on the variety. The seeds are utilized by blue grouse, songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals. Antelope, deer, mountain goats, and sheep eat the twigs and foliage.

The attractive growth habit of the Douglas Fir makes it a popular type of fir tree in parks and yards, as well as being the most important timber species in the states.

Other Common Names: Douglasfir, Douglas Spruce, Oregon Pine, Red Fir

Growing Zones: 5-7

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: March to May

5. Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmanii)

Engelmann Spruce
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Engelmann Spruce is a straight trunked tree with a spire-like crown. It grows in areas with long cold winters and short cool summers, alongside subalpine fir.

The branches near the ground tend to droop. The leaves have four needles and are sharp but not rigid. They are bluish-green with white bands on the upper and lower sides.

The seed cones are yellow to purplish-brown and the papery scales are tapered on both sides. The bark is loose, scaly, and reddish-brown. The Engelmann Spruce grows best in areas with deep, rich soils with adequate moisture.

Other Common Names: Silver Spruce, White Spruce, Mountains Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 70-100 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

6. Spartan Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’)

Spartan Chinese Juniper
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The Spartan Chinese Juniper is a narrow, pyramidal, columnar evergreen tree with a growth habit like the Italian Cypress.

It’s fast-growing with erect branches and scale-like dark green foliage. It adds an attractive vertical accent to the landscape and provides year-round interest. It also functions well as a windbreak or hedge.

The Spartan Chinese Juniper is tolerant of heat, cold, salt, and drought, and can easily be cultivated in most well-drained soils, including clay. It’s a low-maintenance species that requires no pruning.

Other Common Names: Chinese Juniper, Green Spartan Juniper

Growing Zones: 5b-10

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 ft tall and 4-8 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

7. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern Red Cedar
Image by Paul Comstock via Flickr

The Eastern Red Cedar usually has a shrub-like form in the wild but can take on a pyramidal shape when cultivated. In summer, the foliage is dense and green, and turns a rusty copper hue in the fall but isn’t shed, so provides a pleasing contrast to the rest of the landscape.

The Eastern Red Cedar will grow best in dry, rocky soils in full sun. As with most other junipers, it’s slow-growing. Whilst native to the east coast, it’s cultivated in CO under 6,000 ft as a windbreak and for its ornamental value.

Plant with caution as it’s a ladder fuel in wildfire situations and is known as an allergen-producing tree for some people.

Other Common Names: Eastern Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Red Juniper, Eastern Juniper

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 8-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: April/May

8. One-Seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma)

One seed juniper
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The One-Seed Juniper is found in the Southwestern states and plays an important role in the local ecology. It provides a home for wildlife and functions as a nursery plant by providing micro-climates for species that can’t handle the scorching sun.

Needless to say, it’s well adapted to the harsh desert climate. Whilst not a big tree, at maturity, its taproot can reach 200 ft below the ground.

One-Seed Juniper is dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female trees. The cones mature after about 5 months on female trees to shades of dark blue and purple. It’ll grow in sandy, gravelly, and loose rocky soils in full sun to partial shade.

Other Common Names: Cherrystone Juniper, New Mexico Cedar

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-35 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: March/April

9. Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)

Concolor fir
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Concolor Fir is an evergreen with a medium growth rate of around 12” a year. The needles are upward-pointing, 1 ½ inch long, and are positioned at the top side of the branches.

They are blue/green/silver in color and have a faint citrus aroma when crushed and persist for a decade. The branching is low to the ground.

In the wild, it can be found growing with Colorado Spruce and Douglas Fir, in rocky areas of the high plains, usually between 3,000 and 9,000 ft in areas with low humidity.

Other Common Names: White Fir

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

10. Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)

Rocky Mountain Juniper
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Rocky Mountain Juniper grows in the American West at elevations between 1,600 and 8,900. In Colorado it’s found in the Western part of the state, and not in the high Rockies. The Rocky Mountain Juniper produces berry-like seed cones, containing 2 seeds, which mature after a year and a half after which they are consumed by wildlife.

The pollen cones can be either male or female depending on the tree. The Rocky Mountain Juniper features green leaves (not needles) and is a long-lived species, capable of reaching between 1,500 – 2,000 years old.

Other Common Names: Mountain Red Cedar, Weeping Juniper, Rocky Mountain Redcedar

Growing Zones: 4-9a

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and 3-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

11. Cork Bark Fir (Abies lasiocarpa arizonica)

Cork Bark Fir
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Cork Bark Fir is an evergreen that grows around the Western US. Its needles are silver-gray, 1 – 1 ½ inches long, and usually point upwards. The common name comes from the creamy white bark which looks like cork. Young trees have an open aspect, and fill out as they age.

The Cork Bark Fir is a hardy tree that will tolerate windy locations and heavy snow. Whilst they prefer well-drained soil, they will also survive in dry conditions. The Cork Bark Fir looks fairly similar to the Colorado Blue Spruce in shape and color.

Other Common Names: Subalpine Fir, Alpine Fir, Balsam Fir, White Balsam, Rocky Mountain Fir, Western Balsam Fir

Growing Zones: 4a-8b

Average Size at Maturity: 50-90 ft tall and 40-65 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

12. Piñon Pine (Pinus edulis)

Piñon
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Piñon Pine is a Colorado native that has a dense and heavy aspect making it perfect as a noise or wind barrier in the home landscape.

In the Front Range, the Piñon Pine grows smaller than when found in the wild, reaching about half of its wild size. Its a slow growing tree, with increases of about 6” a year.

The Piñon Pine can be seen growing up to 9,000 ft above sea level, both in cultivation and in the wild.The needles are short and grayish green, and the cones contain the highly prized pine cones, favored by birds and humans alike.

Other Common Names: Two-Needle Pinyon, Nut Pine, Colorado Pinyon, Colorado Piñon, Common Piñon, Mesa Piñon

Growing Zones: 4-7

Average Size at Maturity: 12-36 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

13. Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

Norway Spruce
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Norway Spruce is a broadly conically shaped evergreen with short green needles. It features a tall crown and drooping secondary branches that are somewhat rigid when young, becoming more relaxed with age.

It’s a fast-growing tree provided it is given access to sufficient water. It has higher moisture needs than native evergreens and will likely need supplemental irrigation when rainfall is scarce.

The needles are light-to-dark green, stiff and sharply pointed, arranged around the stem. The cones are light brown upon maturity, cylindrical and hang off the branches. The Norway Spruce prefers moist, sandy, acid, well-drained soil.

Other Common Names: Norway Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: June

14. Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Scotch Pine
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Scotch Pine is a coniferous tree distinguished by its orange trunk. It’s usually straight-trunked unless the central leader is damaged when young. It has a pyramidal shape when young that broadens out with age.

Globally, the Scotch Pine is the most distributed Pine, being tolerant of poor soils, drought and frost, and a plethora of different climatic and ecological conditions.

The Scotch Pine is a pioneer species that will grow in previously disturbed areas. However, It won’t tolerate air pollution.

The Scotch Pine will grow from sea level up to 8,500 ft above sea level.

Other Common Names: Scots Pine, Baltic Pine

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: May-June

15. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Image by Forest & Kim Starr via Flickr

The Ponderosa Pine is another Colorado native that grows in elevations up to 10,000 ft. It’s a fast growing tree with a thick bark, making it fire resistant and useful as a windbreak. The Ponderosa Pine features long blue-green needles 1 ½ – 3 inches long, open branches, and dense secondary branching. It forms a roundish shape and tends to loose it’s lower branches.

The Ponderosa Pine is suited to xeric gardens and is a large tree so should only be planted in open areas where it can reach it’s full size. It’ll grow in a variety of soil types, and can even be seen in the wild growing with its roots in bare rocks and crevices. It can handle dry conditions and has a medium drought tolerance.

Other Common Names: Bull Pine, Western Yellow Pine, Blackjack Pine, Filipinus Pine

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 60-100 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – June

Always Green

Colorado is a state known for its unbeatable Rocky Mountain landscape. For many, mention of CO conjures of images snowy mountains and evergreen forests.

Evergreen trees grace the landscape and can be admired in the wild or planted in your own yard, regardless of where you are in this vast and varied state.

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