Fat Albert Spruce
Characteristics Of The Fat Albert Spruce
The Fat Albert spruce tree isn't really fat, but if you suspect it got its name from a cartoon character of the same name, you're right. The Fat Albert spruce is a hybrid of the Colorado spruce. It came about through natural hybridization, which is to say, without human intervention. Since first discovered, it has been propagated primarily through grafting, and because of this its color has remained constant and true.
A Blue Spruce, But Not A Colorado Blue Spruce - Also known by the name Royal Blue, the Fat Albert spruce is characterized by having a pyramid shape but has a somewhat greater spread than is typical for most spruce trees. Probably because of the name, it is sometimes confused with the Alberti variety of the Colorado Blue Spruce family. To make matters even more confusing, the Colorado Blue spruce is a different type of spruce than the Colorado spruce, the type of spruce to which the Fat Albert variety belongs. Some varieties of Colorado spruce, including Fat Albert, have blue needles, while others have needles which are silver, gray, green, or shades in between.
Types Of Spruce Trees - There are at least 7 types of spruce trees in North America. One of the more abundant types is the Sitka spruce, found from the Pacific Northwest coastal regions, along the Canadian west coast, and into Southeastern Alaska. This type is most often used by the timber industry. The Black spruce is perhaps the hardiest of the spruce tree types, found in locations where the winter weather can be extremely cold, although most spruce trees are quite hardy.
The Colorado spruce is often found in landscaping and mass or group plantings for windbreaks, as it the Colorado Blue spruce. These trees are Christmas tree favorites and are usually well shaped and attractive, but become less so as they reach their full height of 50' or more, and that should be taken into account when choosing a Colorado Spruce or Colorado Blue spruce for the yard.
Another very attractive type of spruce is the Norway spruce, which is often used for screens or borders, and one variety, the Weeping Norway spruce, is an outstanding specimen tree. Two lesser known types are the White spruce and the Serbian spruce.
Fat Albert Facts - The Fat Albert spruce will grow to a height of about 10' in as many years but can grow much taller if allowed to. It can be pruned, shearing being the best method for preserving its pyramid shape. The top can be pruned to keep it at a desired height, but there can be a risk of its losing its natural shape if this is done. A bit of good advice is to get a book on pruning evergreens to learn how best to go about pruning a Fat Albert spruce, or any other evergreen in your yard. As is the case with most of the Colorado spruce varsities, one can purchase a young tree in a container, take it inside for use as a Christmas tree, then plant it in the ground afterwards. Spruce trees make extremely attractive Christmas trees, though their prickly needles can be a little irritating at times during the decorating process.
If you decide upon a Fat Albert spruce for your garden, or first as a Christmas tree, just remember to plant it in a sunny location for the best results. It's hardy in most areas of the US and Canada, but does best in the cooler or more temperate regions. You can plant this variety in small groups if you wish, as the coloring should be quite consistent from tree to tree. The Fat Albert spruce has few problems with diseases or insects, with the exception of a possible spider mite infestation. Largely because it is somewhat prickly, and possibly due to its aroma, very pleasing to humans, the tree is very deer resistant.