Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' / Howell's Dwarf Jezo spruce

Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' is a spreading, flat-topped, dense, bushy form of Jezo spruce with ascending branching holding attractive needles that are of typical color for the species — blue-green on upper surfaces with silver-blue undersides and a hint of yellow on the most-exposed surfaces. Another special feature is an absolute riot of rose-purple new seed cones in early spring.

Even though these plants remain bushy and flat-topped for a very long time, older plants will eventually develop apical dominance and assume a densely conical growth habit. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 3 feet (1 m) high and 4.5 feet (1.5 m) broad, an annual growth rate of 4 to 6 inches (10 - 15 cm).

This cultivar originated as a seedling selected in the late 1960s by Skylands Nursery, Ringwood New Jersey, USA and introduced to the nursery trade by John Vermeulen and Son Nursery, Asbury, New Jersey.

This selection is resplendent with nomenclatural issues — it is quite often seen listed under the species, Picea alcoquiana, (or its former specific name, Picea bicolor). One can easily reconcile this conflict through analysis of spring bud break between the two species. Picea jezoensis consistently breaks bud a month earlier than alcoquiana. This is also the case with cultivars of the two very similar species.

In addition, persistent inconsistencies exist with the cultivar name — Vermeulen Nursery first described and listed it under the cultivar name, 'Howell's Tigertail,' but later changed the name to avoid confusion with Picea torano's common name, "Tigertail spruce." One final common cultivar error is to combine the provisional and current (correct) names into, 'Howell's Dwarf Tigertail.'

Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' — reliable crops of bright, wine-red seed cones every year. Nice upturned branches that reveal bright blue undersides of its needles. Spreading growth, but develops a leader over time.
Photo by Len Stubenfoll
Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' — copyright of The Wildlife & Conifer Garden.
Photo by Nonda Surratt
Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' in the Harper Collection of Dwarf & Rare Conifers at Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan, August 2005.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' in the Gotelli Collection in the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' photographed by Frank at his Delta, Ohio Nursery/Garden, USA in spring.
Photo by Frank Echler
Picea jezoensis 'Howell's Dwarf' — a closeup of foliage and a fresh bloom of seed cones.
Photo by Phil Syphrit/Cornell Plantations