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Pahl’s Market Plant of the Month – January 2014

by | Jan 8, 2014 | Market News

Of all the plant varieties growing in the display gardens along the exterior of our greenhouses, the most noticeable during the winter months is an uncommon semi-dwarf Norway spruce with an unusual name; Picea abies ‘Acrocona’.  Acro in Latin means ‘at the end’ and cona means ‘cone’.  Even when young, this variety of conifer develops showy raspberry-red cones on the tips of its branches in the spring.  During the growing season the cones mature to a light tan and occasionally produce pitch, from which the species received its name Picea which is derived from the old Latin word pix, meaning ‘pitch’.  In autumn the cones open and become fragile and fall off in late winter or early spring.

‘Acrocona’ was discovered in a forest near Uppsala, Sweden, in 1890.  It is commonly grown as an ornamental in Europe and was seldom seen in the landscape in the United States.  It is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen with a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. It grows to about 12 feet at maturity with a spread of 10 feet.  ‘Acrocona’ can reach the height of 20 feet within 50 years, the expected length of its life under ideal conditions.

This exceptional cultivar is beginning to be used more frequently as a focal point in the American landscape as it provides year-around interest.  Its presence adds impact to a landscape design where space is limited.  ‘Acrocona’ will grow in full sun to partial shade in average to evenly moist soil.  It will not tolerate standing water or excessively dry soils.  Our ‘Acrocona’ specimen is located near the west wall of the Head-house and receives afternoon light.  Despite being set in a shallow raised bed, our adaptable and hardy specimen has thrived and grown rapidly.  It has produced 10 to 12 inches of new growth a year.  The colorful new cones in the spring and their distinctive placement at the tips of the branches make this evergreen one of the nicest accent plants in our display gardens.

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