Engelmann spruce is a typical tree of the North American Rocky Mountains. It grows between 450-3700m asl (above sea level) and forms the tree-line with, among others, white fir (Abies lasiocarpa). Lower down the mountains it forms large single species forests. Typically, it grows in moist soil of normal fertility. This spruce can become a large tree with a dense conical or narrow spire-like crown.
At Mustila there are several excellent specimens mixed with indigenous species on the slope between Etelärinne (Southern Slope) and Terassi (Terrace); these trees are of the bluish-green southern Rockies form. In the western parts of the Arboretum, in the spruce collection, there is a small plantation of young Engelmann spruce of Kamloops, British Columbian origin. In the same area there is a small stand of an intermediate form between white spruce (Picea glauca) and Engelmann spruce, from seed collected at Kirkup Creek, British Columbia.
The best British Columbian provenances also thrive in small stands. As many American spruces, they have grown vigorously but their life span has been significantly shorter than in their natural range, and the trees have been susceptible to bark beetle attacks when aged.
The blue-grey southern form of Engelmann spruce, which demands an open space, is best suited to landscaping use. In the open it is relatively long-lived and the branches remain dense to maturity.