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Picea asperata

Picea asperata - Dragon spruce
  • Picea asperata - Dragon spruce  - Click to enlarge
  • Picea asperata cones - Click to enlarge
  • Picea asperata trees - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Picea asperata  M.T.Masters  1906

Synonyms: Picea asperata var. asperata

Infraspecific taxa: Picea asperata var. notabilis  Rehder & E.H.Wilson, Picea asperata var. ponderosa  Rehder & E.H.Wilson

Common names: Dragon spruce (English), Yunshan (Chinese)



Tree to 45 m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) m in diameter. Bark grayish brown, furrowed between irregular plates on old trees. Crown conical to spirelike, with horizontal, gently rising, or gently downswept branches. New branchlets yellowish brown to reddish brown, thinly waxy or not, hairless or thinly hairy. Buds (4-)6-12 mm long, resinous. Needles dull green or a little bluish with wax, (0.5-)1-2(-2.5) cm long, curved slightly forward, square, with three to eight lines of stomates on each side, pointed to prickly. Pollen cones 10-20 mm long, red. Seed cones (5-)8-12 cm long, green or reddish purple before maturity, ripening reddish brown. Seed scales rounded diamond-shaped, thick and stiff, the tips rounded, minutely toothed, or notched. Seed body (2-)3-4 mm long, the wing 8-14 mm longer. Seed body (2-)3-4 mm long, the wing 8-14 mm longer.

The scientific name, Latin for “rough”, refers to the prickly leaves. It is an important commercial species, not only for the many uses of its wood but also for resins from the trunk and fragrant oils distilled from the leaves and twigs.

Mountains of west-central China, from southern Qinghai to southwestern Shaanxi, south through Sichuan. In pure stands or mixed with other upper montane conifers and hardwoods; (1,500-)2,400-3,800(-4,000) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable

The assessment of the entire species is driven by that of its most common and widespread nominate variety, which meets criterion A for Vulnerable due to past logging. The logging ban, though imposed since more than a decade, should at least have slowed the reduction substantially, but we suspect it has not stopped it entirely. The species as a whole is therefore considered to be Vulnerable.

Picea asperata occurs in the high mountains of W central China, at elevations between 1500 m and 3800 m a.s.l., usually above 2400 m in Sichuan. The soils are grey-brown mountain podzols. The climate is continental, subalpine, with cold winters and dry summers (annual precipitation less than 500 mm). It forms mostly pure forests on N-facing slopes, or mixtures with other species of Picea, in the south of Gansu it may be mixed with Abies nephrolepis. Betula albo-sinensis is the most common broad-leaved associate.

Picea asperata is an important timber tree in China. The wood is mainly used for pulpwood and to a lesser extent for construction. Old growth stands of this potentially large spruce have been reduced to less accessible mountain slopes and valleys and plantation forestry has begun to replace the natural stands as a resource for spruce timber, but as yet on a scale that is incapable of meeting growing demands in China's rapidly growing economy. The species and its varieties are in cultivation as amenity trees and in arboreta and pineta in Europe and the USA, mostly still based on seed collections by Ernest Wilson, Joseph Rock and some other early 20th century plant hunters who travelled widely in southern Gansu and western Sichuan.

The government of China has imposed a logging ban since 1998 on the conifer forests of western China.



Picea asperata ’94-3048’  
Picea asperata ’Bartek WN’    
Picea asperata ’Bochen WN’                              
Picea asperata ’Chevreloup’           
Picea asperata ’China Blue’                        
Picea asperata ’Dwarf Form’                           
Picea asperata ’Glauca’                                  
Picea asperata ’Hunnewelliana’
Picea asperata ’Jeff Philips’                       
Picea asperata ’Mongolei’                             
Picea asperata ’Morton Arb’                          
Picea asperata ’MPH Hermina’                  
Picea asperata ’MPH Kocsis Zoltán’            
Picea asperata ’MPH Liszt Ferenc’         
Picea asperata ’Mutabilis’                              
Picea asperata ’Nigrans’           
Picea asperata ’Pendula’                                  
Picea asperata ’Spring Red’ 
Picea asperata ’Virgata’          



  • Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
  • Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland

Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

Product CodePICHVHKR74
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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