16 Trees That Have Blue Leaves And Needles (And Why They’re Blue)
As you are probably quite aware, there are many varieties of trees- even within species themselves. If you are looking to get an overview of some species of trees with blue needles, and what genera of tree they fall under, this is the place for you!
Coniferous evergreen trees are the most common trees to sport blue-colored leaves and needles. The most common trees that have blue leaves and needles are specific variants of:
- Cedar trees
- Cypress trees
- Fir Trees
- Juniper Trees
- Sprue Trees
Before we continue our discussion about these different species, we should start on a broader note. What kinds of trees even have needles in the first place, and what are some trees in this category?
Okay, let’s dive in!
What Are Some Types of Coniferous Evergreens That May Have Blue Needles And Leaves?
Now, since you know what a coniferous evergreen is, you probably wonder which trees fall into this category.
Evergreen trees are something to behold because they stay beautifully green year-round. You can find out more about how evergreens grow year round in our article here if you’d like to go down that rabbit hole!
If not, let’s talk about it!
Here are some of the common coniferous evergreens you might see year round:
There are many types of cedar trees, but when it comes down to its cedars are all enormous trees you might come across in large, open spaces. These coniferous evergreen trees grow tall and take up space.
Their size makes cedars less likely to be seen in more residential areas. Though, if you have a lot of land on your property, you may still sport some cedars on your property.
Since cedars grow fast and are such large trees, they are well suited to a range of climate zones. Additionally, they act as a great wind barrier in areas where they are necessary.
Cypress trees are an exception to the general rule of conifers being evergreens. This deciduous conifer still holds its own among its relatives, growing fast and proving to be extremely adaptable.
For example, cypress trees do the best in wetter soil, but once they are established and growing self-sufficiently, they can thrive in dry soil. These species can even keep growing in short droughts, speaking of their adaptability.
Fir trees have needle-like leaves, which grow directly from the branches of the tree, and leave very specific circular markings when they eventually fall from those branches.
The needles of a coniferous evergreen tree do not fall annually, but fall as needed to give way for newer, healthier ones.
These trees often make cedars look short, which is saying something! This is another tree you are not likely to see in someone’s neighborhood backyard. Think forests and vast properties, instead.
Juniper trees sport needle-like leaves when they are young, though the leaves become more complex as the tree matures. They are most often described as awl-shaped.
While juniper trees are among these other big names, they do not grow nearly as tall. As a mid-size tree, junipers are more decorative and suitable for residential areas where space is tighter.
This makes the juniper more versatile, thanks to its ability to fit in smaller spaces.
Unlike our other trees, where blue leaves or needles are not necessarily the standard, juniper trees are typically blue. Other colors are less common, and blue needles are just the default here. Pretty cool, huh?
The cones themselves of a juniper tree might even be blue. Talk about a visually appealing plant!
Our final conifer on this list is another whose size rivals the cedar, cypress, and fir. The spruce has about 35 species under its umbrella, with most of them having multiple names. For this reason, you might hear certain spruces called by many names.
With four-sided needles and cones hanging directly downward, you can easily distinguish this type of tree from its relatives.
There is a wide range of spruces, and you will soon learn many of them do have blue needles.
Pine, Spruce, or Fir?
Okay, it’s great to know there are so many different types of coniferous evergreens (and remember, what’s listed above isn’t even the full list!), but how can you distinguish between them?
Pines, spruces, and firs are the most commonly mixed-up coniferous evergreens and we want to help you feel equipped to differentiate between them.
Conifers are most commonly identified by their leaves, which appear as needles.
Pine trees sport needles clustered in groups. While they are attached directly to the branch, these groupings are relatively easy to distinguish.
Spruce and fir trees, on the other hand, have their needles individually attached to the branches.
How would one go about telling the difference between a spruce and a fir, in that case?
Well, fir needles are rather soft. As a flat needle, you would not be able to roll the needles of a fir tree between your fingers. Spruce, alternately, has sharply pointed needles you could roll between your fingers thanks to their square-shaped design.
The color and length of the needles differ among individuals, so these are not the best factors to consider in your differentiating process.
When looking at needles, one would need to be pretty close to a tree to determine what type of tree it is. If the needles are blue (which we’ll go over in a second) then you’ll quickly be able to identify what species you’re working with.
So, there are other ways to determine which kind of conifer you might be seeing.
Cones and bark also offer some important clues.
While these appendages are most commonly called pinecones, this is an incorrect assumption. Many of the conifers that have these cones are not pine trees, hence why pinecone is a very specific distinguishment.
That tangent aside, true pinecones have a scaly, rigid feel while spruce cones have thinner, smoother feeling scales.
Cones and needles are not the only ways to identify a tree. Using bark alone may not do much for your understanding of this task, but combining bark with cones and needles is a fantastic, comprehensive way to identify a conifer.
Spruce bark is typically rough and ridged, especially as the tree matures. Pine bark is often smooth when a tree is juvenile and becomes flaky with age. Fir bark falls somewhere in between, with smooth gray bark when the tree is young that turns into a more hardened, weathered texture with maturity.
We have covered some of the basics, from what conifers are to some examples, and how to tell between them. Now it’s time to give you the specifics!
You made it this far- so keep on reading to find out more about the 16 trees with blue needles.
16 Trees That Have Blue Leaves and Needles
Alright, your patience was all worth it!
The moment you’ve been waiting for: the 16 trees that have blue leaves, or needles!
Here are some of the trees with needles that appear to be blue. After reading this piece, maybe you will even be able to recognize some of them specifically!
We know cedar trees can have blue leaves, but which kind is the most common species we can expect to see sporting this color?
1. Blue Atlas Cedar
The blue atlas cedar, true to its name, has needles that give off a very blue tone.
Hardy to a USDA zone as low as 6, this tree is pretty resilient when it comes to temperature, to a certain point.
If you are looking to learn more about hardiness zones and what they are, you can check out this USDA Hardiness Zone map.
2. Arizona Cypress
This cypress grows in hardiness zones 7-9 and is both heat and drought tolerant.
The Arizona cypress helps evade erosion, breaks harsh winds, and thanks to its pyramid shape, it even acts as a splendid Christmas tree.
At maturity, this tree gets up to around 50 feet tall at a maximum. So, while this is a great indoor Christmas tree in its middle years, or at maturity if you have super high ceilings, the Arizona cypress is also a great variety to just plant in your yard.
What’s better than enjoying a beautiful tree during a holiday season? Enjoying it for years on end!
The bark of this tree may end up being a rough brown tone, or a grey-brown color. Likely, the bark will begin shedding at a certain stage.
If you are interested in growing one of these beautiful trees, you can start looking here: Brighter Blooms – Arizona Blue Cypress Evergreen. These trees, while not at maturity on arrival, come with detailed growing instructions. The company warns they may show up drier than expected, so be sure to water them right away!
3. Boulevard Cypress
This dense, semi-dwarf evergreen is more shrub-like than treelike, which makes it well adapted to fit in most spaces!
Whether you want a pop of blue needles outside of your home in a city or on your land in a wide-open space, the boulevard cypress is always an option. If you are in USDA hardiness zones 4-8, that is!
This tree may mature to about 12 feet tall, but it will take 10 years to even reach 5-6 feet tall.
Another selling factor is this cypress can be pruned to whatever shape and/or size your heart desires, so the blue tone of this tree isn’t even the only visual factor.
4. Curly Tops Cypress
The densely packed, steel-blue leaves of this cypress give it quite a unique appearance. Some of its shoots are curled, hence the name ‘curly tops.’
It is a very slow-growing tree, so maintenance is pretty easy, thankfully.
Similar to its predecessor in this list, the curly tops cypress does best in hardiness zones 4-8, as well.
You can plant this tree in a chalky or sandy type of soil, as long as it drains well.
5. Golden Mop Cypress
No surprise here, but this cypress also thrives in hardiness zones 4-8. It’s like these trees are all related or something!
This one gets its name from its mop-like appearance, as a short shrub-like organism with branches that often hang down and look like… well, a mop.
This evergreen does very well as a decorative piece, seen commonly in Japanese gardens or near homes.
6. Balsam Fir
Native to much of Canada and the Northeastern United States, the balsam fir is a small to mid-size evergreen, which thrives in individual residential areas and public settings.
With very straight and spread apart branches, the blue of these needles is quite the sight. This tree is also used as a Christmas tree, unsurprisingly.
This is also one of the most cold-hardy trees there is, doing well in hardiness zone 2. The balsam fir can thrive in temperatures as low as -49 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Candicans White Fir
The candicans white fir’s silvery-blue needles are soft and, as a white fir, this tree is incredibly adaptable.
Not only is this plant suitable for a city environment, but candicans white firs are resilient in other ways. Resistant to heat and drought, this fir can withstand harsh conditions so long as the soil it is planted is can be well-drained.
Hard clay is one type of soil that should be strictly avoided when working with the candicans white fir.
Often used as a replacement for the Colorado Spruce, this species has needles ranging from the common blue-green color to the silvery blue it is most well known for.
With a pyramid shape, the smell of citrus, and its soft needles, this tree is a great option for when you want a pop of color you can also plant in a residential environment. Thanks to the mature height of 30 feet tall, the size fits well in this environment, too.
You will find this tree in the Midwest, as disease seems to be less of a threat in this region of the United States.
8. Blue Star Juniper
The dense branches of this juniper are great for displaying its blue needles. This is another shrub-like tree, perfect for a smaller blue showcase.
You can find this tree in our (new favorite) USDA hardiness zones 4-8.
9. Blue Chip (Creeping Juniper)
This low-growing, evergreen shrub is one of the lowest maintenance plants we can think of.
Creeping juniper can adapt to any soil, including areas suffering from drought or is severely lacking nutrients.
We’ll leave you with that, but this is a great one to keep in mind!
10. Blue Point Juniper
Blue point juniper acts as a great screen, or something to add if you are looking for some easy lawn vegetation.
It maintains its broad pyramid shape well without the need for pruning.
As it’s shaping out, junipers are a pretty low-maintenance option!
11. Blue Pfitzer Juniper
The blue pfitzer’s needles turn a bluish-purple color in the winter months, creating a brilliant contrast to the snow and the grey of dreary days.
This shrub grows up to about 10 feet tall and gives off the appearance of being very loose, almost fluffy if one does not look too closely at all the little needles making up this outward appearance.
12. Blue Creeper Juniper
This juniper is smaller than usual. Reaching a maximum height of 2 feet, it is more of a mid-sized shrub than a tree at all.
Fit for USDA zones 3-7, this juniper does well in relatively cold climates.
Its foliage appears bluer in the winter months, but it is a great accent piece for any yard during any time of year.
Also, as it only needs to be watered occasionally, this bush is low maintenance with the reward of its beautiful blue-green coloring.
Spruce trees are often kept as shrubs instead of full-sized trees. If this is your intent, you can read our article on on the 6 simple steps to keeping your blue spruce tree small to make sure your desires are met!
Also, it is possible to make these trees even more blue than they currently are. You can find out more in our article about how to make your blue spruce tree more blue!
13. Blue Spruce AKA Colorado Spruce
Native to the Rocky Mountains, it is no wonder the blue spruce is also commonly referred to as the Colorado spruce.
You can find this one in USDA zones 1-7, showing how adaptable this tree can be as it thrives in so many temperature ranges.
If you’re wondering why your blue spruce isn’t very blue (or not as blue as it should be) you can learn more about how to fix your blue spruce’s color here.
14. ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ Spruce
This is another dense, pyramid-shaped tree with bluish-green needles, which stand out nicely against the other, deep green trees in its region.
This one is not as cold-hardy as other spruces, starting to die in zone 3. This just means it prefers an environment more similar to the juniper trees listed above.
15. Skylands Spruce
A unique species, the skylands spruce has much to offer. It is a robust, symmetrical tree that gives its denser relatives a run for their money, visually speaking.
A mature skylands spruce will reach only about 15 feet, making this another one of our most manageable city and small yard-friendly trees.
16. Kosteri Spruce
A form of the common blue spruce, this spruce essentially just takes on its own unique form. Whether it is straight and tall or sweeping and loose, the kosteri spruce is a beautiful offshoot of its more common parent tree.
Why Are These Trees Needles Blue?
The question of the day is here- what makes these needles blue? Do they simply appear blue or is this color an accurate representation of these needles?
The truth is, these needles are just a different color. It’s like how certain trees have leaves of a deeper green than others. There’s no specific ‘cause’, it’s just how the tree itself was created.
It is a beautiful, unique, characteristic, though!
If you already have one of these trees and it is looking a little less blue than usual, here are some tips to get the beautiful color back, 4 Reasons Your Blue Spruce Isn’t Blue (And How To Fix It).
That’s All, But Don’t Feel Blue!
That’s what we have for you today. As a reminder, this is not exactly an exhaustive list of every single tree with needles or leaves with a blue hue, but it is comprehensive enough to get your education started!
If you decide you want a blue conifer yourself, or just want to remember the trees we talked about today (after all, 16 is a lot!), you can use the below list to job your memory.
Here are the 16 trees that have blue needles and leaves:
- Blue Atlas Cedar
- Arizona Cypress
- Boulevard Cypress
- Curly Tops Cypress
- Golden Mop Cypress
- Balsam Fir
- Candicans White Fir
- Blue Star Juniper
- Blue Chip Juniper (AKA Creeping Juniper)
- Blue Point Juniper
- Blue Pfitzer Juniper
- Blue Creeper Juniper
- Blue Spruce (AKA Colorado Spruce)
- ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ Spruce
- Skylands Spruce
- Kosteri Spruce
Thank you for reading this article, and taking the time to learn a little more about the trees that are such a big part of our world!
I hope this piece helps you feel informed as you continue along your personal tree journey. It’s all about growth!
Cetin, M., Sevik, H., & Cobanoglu, O. (2020). Ca, Cu, and Li in washed and unwashed specimens of needles, bark, and branches of the blue spruce (Picea pungens) in the city of Ankara. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 27(17), 21816-21825.
Pekins, P. J., Lindzey, F. G., & Gessaman, J. A. (1991). Physical characteristics of blue grouse winter use-trees and roost sites. The Great Basin Naturalist, 244-248.
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