The background of the Alberta spruce is a source of some disagreement. It is considered a south-western form of the white spruce (P. glauca), or perhaps as an intermediate form of a hybrid involving the Engelmann (P. engelmannii) and white spruces, which is what it undoubtedly looks like. The needles are longer than those of the typical white spruce, and the stems of the new growth are hairy, like the Engelmann.
At Mustila, a large stand of Alberta spruce grew for many years in the western part of the Arboretum, near the seasonal greenhouse, Näppäri. Their seed provenance was Crow’s Nest Pass in the Canadian province of Alberta, which is rather continental compared with Mustila’s climate. Like many of the Arboretum’s other exotic spruce plantings, with increasing age this stand has also suffered major insect damage. Currently there is only a small group of trees left. The same provenance has been used in the Finnish Forest Research Institute’s various test plantations, but fairly good results have been obtained only at Punkaharju.
In the year 2000 a small new stand of Alberta spruce, of Kirkup Creek, B.C., provenance, was planted in the spruce collection at Näppäri. Trees of this provenance have generally grown well at Mustila, and the development of these plantings is being followed with interest.