Picea abies 'Pygmaea' / Pygmy Norway spruce

Picea abies 'Pygmaea' is one of the first named conifer cultivars in the international nursery trade. It is a very slow-growing, extremely variable, but usually broadly conical dwarf form of Norway spruce with dense branching and shoots display a wide range of vigor, from extremely congested to a few inches long. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 2.5 feet (75 cm) tall and 4 feet (1.3 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 3 to 4 inches (7.5 - 10 cm).

  • Adrian Bloom in his book Gardening With Conifers, correctly states, "several similar variants are available; if you can get the true 'Pygmaea' it is one of the best and oldest, introduced over two hundred years ago."
  • Iseli Nursery of Boring, Oregon appears to produce a more globose form. They describe, "a sculptured mound that could be considered living rock. Notoriously variable, but the form is incredibly dense and slow-growing."
  • In Conifers The Illustrated Encyclopedia, D.M. van Gelderen also speaks to cultivar variability stating, "this cultivar has a globose form but can also be more or less conical."
As mentioned, 'Pygmaea' is one of the oldest known conifer cultivars, known to arboretums and eclectic gardens since the around 1800. It is of unknown origin. Scottish botanist, John Claudius Loudon formally described it in 1838 in his most significant work, Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum.
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Picea abies 'Pygmaea' in the Harper Collection at Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan, July, 2005.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Picea abies 'Pygmaea' at Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Clinton, Iowa in the Heartland Collection of Garden Conifers, March 2004.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Picea abies 'Pygmaea' in the Harper Collection at Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan, July, 2016.
Picea abies 'Pygmaea' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Picea abies 'Pygmaea' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger

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