Picea sitchensis 'Renken' / Renken Sitka spruce

Picea sitchensis 'Renken' is one of the smallest of the Sitka spruce selections available anywhere. Growth is quite small and very dense, typically growing less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) per year. The needles are a pleasing silvery, blue-green and are quite prickly, typical to the species. After 10 years the gardener can expect Renken to grow to approximately 1 foot (30 cm) tall and wide.

This selection has been in cultivation since the early 1990s. It was propagated from a witch's broom mutation found by Werner Wüstemeyer in Germany. Wüstemeyer chose cultivar name, "Renken" in honor of the family who owned the property where he found the broom.

Picea sitchensis 'Renken' featured at Glacier's End Arboretum, Olympia, Washington. This is an 8-year old specimen measuring approximately 8 inches tall and wide.
Photo by David Olszyk
Picea sitchensis 'Renken' — an old specimen in a private garden in the United Kingdom.
Photo by Stephen Grubb



Do you know where I can purchase Picea sitchensis 'Renken'
I tried conifer kingdom, but they no longer have it.

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Elizabeth, if you live in the United States, I can offer cuttings if you can line up a grafter. I exchange cuttings with ACS members all the time.

Catherine Carrico

Hi. I recently purchase three Picea sitchensis 'Renken' at a local nursery however they don’t look like the pictures I’m seeing online. How can I tell if it really is the Renken?? Can I send pictures to someone for them to see what they think?

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Catherine ... I've seen some strange examples of 'Renken' as well. My thoughts are that this one has been around long enough that growers are starting to use cuttings that are in the process of making a reversion to the regular species (this happens a lot).


Thank you for your response! What is the regular species? I am terribly ignorant on all this. I’m trying to figure out how big they might get so try to research online and there is not a lot of information in Renken. Thank you so much 😊

Maxwell Cohn

no worries, Catherine. The regular species is Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), one of the largest-growing spruces on earth. While a full reversion to a 300-foot tree is probably not in the cards, something intermediate wouldn't be a stretch. You'll know in 15 to 20 years.

You're right; there's not a lot of information out there on this cultivar. It's a collectable conifer that has never gained much traction with the professional growers. Sitka spruce is a pretty tough species to propagate in large numbers.