Picea abies 'Elegans' / Knights Dwarf spruce

Picea abies 'Elegans' is a globose to squatty-conical, semi-dwarf selection of Norway spruce with dense, uniform branching and nodding tips holding dense, light-green, radially arranged needles. It is often confused with Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana Elegans' as well as a completely different P. abies 'Elegans,' a non-dwarf introduced by Scotsman, James Smith, which is probably lost to cultivation.

After 10 years, a mature specimen will measure 3 to 5 feet (1 - 4.5 m), an annual growth rate of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 - 15 cm). Some growers group it together with other 'nest-type' cultivars. 'Elegans' can be distinguished through observation of its earlier bud break in spring.

This cultivar is one of the first named conifer cultivars, first described in 1850 in Knight and Perry's book, Synopsis of the Coniferous Plants Grown in Great Britain, as P. excelsa 'Conica Elegans,' with the vernacular, "Knight's Dwarf spruce." It has been in cultivation since the 1830s and one can still find an ancient specimen on the grounds of Wakehurst Place, Sussex, United Kingdom.

This picture was taken in 2002. The plant is a 2 ft. high/wide globe. It has not shown any winter burn in my location.
Photo by Ken Church
Picea abies 'Elegans' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Picea abies 'Elegans' — a beautiful older specimen in an arboretum setting.
Photo by Bill Barger