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The state tree of Utah is the blue spruce, also commonly referred to as Picea pungens. The blue spruce is an evergreen tree with a pyramidal shape and stiff, needle-shaped leaves. The tree also produces cylindrical cones that mature in autumn. Although size can vary, usually the blue spruce is a medium to large tree with stout, layered branches. This species of tree is widely occurring in the mountainous regions of the United States and the south-central area of Eastern Canada.
Medium to large in size, the state tree of Utah has a conic crown that becomes more cylindrical with age. The bark is usually grayish-brown or red-brown in color and scaly during the young years. As the tree matures, it develops furrows. The twigs of the blue spruce are hairless, thick, and typically red-brown in color. This species of tree is relatively long-lived and often reaches 700 to 800 years of age.
The sharp, needle-like leaves of the blue spruce are long and thick with several rows of stomata. The color of the needles is variable and can range from a muted grayish-green to a pale blue-green. The blue spruce also produces pendulous, cylindrical cones that can reach up to 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) in length. Young cones are reddish-brown in color while mature cones are pale brown.
The blue spruce is abundant in the western mountainous states of the United States, especially Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. The state tree of Utah can also be found in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as the Northeastern region of the United States. In addition, blue spruce occurs in areas of Eastern Canada, such as Nova Scotia and Ontario. The tree grows at high altitudes and is typically seen along streams of mountain valleys.
An ornamental tree, the blue spruce is the official state tree of both Utah and Colorado and is widely grown and used for the Christmas tree industry. It is often a desirable choice for an ornamental Christmas tree because it requires very little shearing and has an attractive, natural appearance. The state tree of Utah is also commonly planted as an ornamental tree in parks, gardens, and nature reserves.
Although the wood of the blue spruce is suitable for fuel and the lumber industry, it is not widely used due to the fact that the species is typically found in inaccessible locations. In the wild, the blue spruce provides seeds and shelter for rodents and certain species of birds. In limited areas of the western United States, the tree is also used in shelterbelt plantations, which help to protect soil from deterioration.