following question was sent to the P&PDL diagnosticians here
at Purdue University:
Question: I have a question about Colorado Spruce trees.
We are thinking of buying some trees from a man who has grown them
from acorns. He has grown probably about a hundred of them within
a fairly small space (maybe 20' x 20' - I'm guessing). They are
all now between 6-10' tall and look quite healthy and green except
that they do not have any branches on the lower third (or so) of
the tree. He tells us that this is because they have been grown
so close together but once we plant them properly spaced, the lower
branches will come. These trees are a really good price and we
would like to buy about 20. He seems to know his stuff - he has
created himself an absolutely beautiful 3 acre yard of spruce and
pine trees - all from acorns. Is the information he is telling
Answer: In response to your question about the spruce,
unfortunately, the gentleman was wrong about the trees growing
new branches. Conifers often grow close together in nature. The
bottom branches self-prune due to lack of light. This is exactly
what is happening with the trees in this man's yard. Deciduous
trees have dormant buds along their branches and trunk. Often if
a tree that has grown in the shade is exposed to the light, branches
will occur. However, conifers don't function in the same way.
You see that difference between conifers and deciduous in another
way as well. If you cut a deciduous tree off it will often sprout
from the stump. Conifers will not do that. So the gentleman should
have placed his trees 6 feet apart when they were being grown from
seed and he would have lots to sell now. By the way spruce grow
from pine cone seeds and not acorns.
--Rita McKenzie, Urban Forester (5/7/98)
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