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Woody > Picea > Picea breweriana > Picea breweriana

Picea breweriana

Brewer Spruce or Weeping Spruce

Origin:  Native tree to northern California and southern Oregon in the remote wilderness of Sikiyou Mountains at around 2000 meters. It was discovered in 1893.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


By far, the Brewer Spruce is the most interesting spruce due to its great form and pendulous branches. Unfortunately, this tree is quite difficult to establish outside of its natural habitat of the Rocky Mountains. It can be a challenge to establish this tree in Eastern Canada. Also, it is quite difficult to find in the wild; making it even more difficult to find seeds commercially. The Brewer Spruce prefers moist warm winters and dry summers. Its natural location is 2300 meters, in a cool maritime environment. The tree has shallow roots making it really susceptible to root injury. This tree is not suited for an urban environment due to its intolerance of salt, pollution and high humidity. Although, once it has been established, it has very few pest and disease issues. The Brewer Spruce will be a definite conversation piece for an experienced gardener.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
20-40 m
3-4 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
A large evergreen, broadly pyramidal conifer, with pendulous branchlets that hang 40 cm in length.
Ornamental conifer that has a beautiful form and interesting branchlets. It is not a common tree in the landscape due to its cultivation requirements.
The Brewer Spruce enjoys warm, moist winters and dry growing seasons. It is a high altitude plant. The tree likes rocky, undeveloped (lean) soil but will tolerate richer soils. The tree is found in cool maritime climates. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. The tree also likes cool temperatures. It dislikes competition and crowding. It prefers spacing and will only thrive in isolation or in an area with common species. Often the Brewer Spruce can be found on rocky slopes and steep cliffs. The tree likes moist but not saturated soils. The Brewer Spruce is considerably tolerant to drought, but is intolerant to pollution and salt. The tree requires a minimum soil pH of 4.5 and a max soil pH of 7.7.
Largely pyramidal.
ID Characteristic
The Brewer Spruce is a very slow growing ornamental conifer. As it matures it develops stunning pendulous branchlets, which develop into a beautiful weeping habit.
The Brewer Spruce is relatively unaffected by pests, with an exception to the cobley spruce gall adegid and the western spruce bug worm. Needle cast and rusts may also be problematic.
Found in northern California and southern Oregon in the Sikiyou Mountains.
Bark/Stem Description
Grey and purple in colour. Younger trees will have smooth bark but as the tree ages the bark becomes rough and scaly.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
The buds can be up to a 6 mm long with rounded chestnut brown scales. The apex is blunt, obtuse in shape and is not resinous.
Leaf Description
The leaves are born singly on the pulvini, and are needle-like, 15-35 mm long, flattened in cross-section, glossy dark green above, and with two bands of white stomata below.
Flower Description
Flowers are monoecious, staminate pale red becoming yellow towards maturity. The seeds are black and approximately 4 mm in size. The female flowers are located at the top of the tree and the males are towards the middle.
Fruit Description
The cones are pendulous, cylindrical, 8-15 cm long and 2 cm broad when closed; opening to 3-4 cm. They have smooth, rounded, thin and flexible scales 2 cm long. The immature cones are dark purple, maturing to red-brown, 5-7 months after pollination.
Colour Description
The needles are dark green on the top of the leaves and light green on the bottom. New growth is pale green which contrasts the older foliage. The buds are chestnut brown and the cones are dark brown when mature.
Texture Description
The texture of the Brewer Spruces bark is smooth, becoming rough with age. The needles and buds are blunt and smooth.
Notable Specimens
Hoyt Aboretium, Portland, Oregon and Shasta-Trinity National Park, California. Pinetum Park and Pine Lodge Gardens, Cornwall, England.
The tree is often propagaded from shoots of mature trees. It can be grown from seed; though the trees do take longer to develop a pendulous form. Mature trees will produce their seeds when it becomes 20 to 30 years old. The seeds are epigeous. Seeds require a temperature of 1-3 °C with low humidity, moist soil and no direct sunlight to germinate. Germination can take 30 days.