AppearanceIn the wild, ''Picea pungens'' grows to about 23 m, but when planted in parks and gardens it seldom exceeds 15 m tall by 5 m wide. It is a columnar or conical evergreen conifer with densely growing horizontal branches. It has scaly grey bark on the trunk with yellowish-brown branches.
Waxy gray-green leaves, up to 3 cm long, are arranged radially on the shoots which curve upwards. The pale brown cones are up to 10 cm long. Male cones are found on the entire tree, whereas the female cones are found at the top of the tree. This helps to facilitate cross-pollination.
NamingThe specific epithet ''pungens'' means "sharply pointed", referring to the leaves.
UsesThe Navajo and Keres Native Americans use this tree as a traditional medicinal plant and a ceremonial item, and twigs are given as gifts to bring good fortune. In traditional medicine, an infusion of the needles is used to treat colds and settle the stomach. This liquid is also used externally for rheumatic pains. Early people used their wood for building.
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