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ACS | Collector’s Conifer of the Year

The American Conifer Society chooses a small collection of rare conifers each year to educate the public on the wonderful world of cone-bearing evergreens and where to buy these incredible specimens.

Eight dwarf and semi-dwarf rare and unusual conifers have been featured in the 2020 American Conifer Society Collection. These conifers highlight the beautiful eccentricity of the conifer kingdom and create permanent showcase elements in the landscape.

Most of the specimens on the list are fairly new arrivals; only a handful of certified nurseries keep them in stock. This is especially intriguing for homeowners looking to add something different to help add interest and flair to their landscapes.

But first, who is the wonderful organization who makes these collections?

What is the American Conifer Society?

The American Conifer Society was organized in 1983 with the focus of preserving and propagating conifers, as well as educating others on the fascinating world of gymnosperms.

What began as a small organization of 80 conifer enthusiasts has now quickly spread across the continental United States with more than 1,600 members.

Since 2006, the American Conifer Society chooses exceptional conifer specimens annually and highlights them on their website. These can be found here.

These conifers are rarely available to the public, but the American Conifer Society helps connect gardeners with certified rare conifer nurseries so they can feature these plants in their gardens.

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more here.

American Conifer Society’s 2020 Collectors’ Conifer of the Year

The ACS has chosen eight spectacular conifer species to highlight for the 2020 Collectors’ Conifer of the year.

These specimens have unique color patterns, and most have a dwarf growth habit. Each one is worthy of a special place in the landscape.

The following table is the American Conifer Society’s selections for the 2020 Collectors’ Conifer of the Year:

Year Scientific Name Common Name Zone Growth Rate Key Features
2020 Abies concolor “Archer’s Dwarf” Archer’s Dwarf White Fir 4-8 Dwarf Silver-blue needles, upright habit
2020 Abies lasiocarpa “Green Globe” Green Globe Subalpine Fir 4-8 Dwarf Green needles, globular growth habit
2020 Gingko biloba “Clica” Clica Maidenhair Tree 4-8 Dwarf Light green leaves, ruffled margins
2020 Picea abies “Acro-yellow” Acro-yellow Norway Spruce 3-8 Dwarf Bright yellow needles, red cones
2020 Pinus koraiensis “Morris Blue” Morris Blue Korean Pine 3-8 Intermediate Long, silver-blue needles, upright habit
2020 Pinus contorta var. latifolia “Taylor’s Sunburst” Taylor’s Sunburst Lodgepole Pine 5-8 Dwarf Contrasting, golden-yellow candles
2020 Pinus mugo “Paul’s Dwarf” Paul’s Dwarf Mugo Pine 2-8 Dwarf Open, globose, aged look
2020 Pinus thunbergii “Shirome Janome” Shirome Janome Japanese Black Pine 5-9 Intermediate Long, green and yellow banded needles
2019 Abies cephalonica “Meyer’s Dwarf” Meyer’s Dwarf Grecian Fir 5-8 Dwarf Dark-green, spiky needles; small red cones
2019 Cedrus libani “Katere” Katere Cedar of Lebanon 6-9 Dwarf Long, gray-green needles; horizontal spread
2019 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Filip’s Golden Tears” Filip’s Golden Tears Lawson False Cypress 5-8 Large Golden-yellow foliage highlights; upright trunk; weeping branches
2019 Picea abies “Lemonade” Lemonade Norway Spruce 3-8 Dwarf Golden needles; upright trunk; pendant branches
2019 Picea orientalis “Ferny Creek Prostrate” Ferny Creek Prostrate Oriental Spruce 4-9 Dwarf Small, dark-green needles; flat, horizontal spread
2019 Picea pungens “Blue Pearl” Blue Pearl Colorado Spruce 3-8 Miniature Dense, globose form; blue foliage with orange-brown buds
2019 Pinus parviflora “Catherine Elizabeth” Catherine Elizabeth Japanese White Pine 5-9 Dwarf Dense, globose form; blue-green needles; irregular branches
2018 Cedrus atlantica “Sapphire Nymph” Sapphire Nymph Atlas Cedar 6-9 Miniature Pyramidal form; silver-blue short needes
2018 Platycladus orientalis “Franky Boy” Franky Boy Chinese Arborvitae 5-9 Dwarf Upright trunk, yellow and lime-green foliage; blue-green cones
2017 Thuja occidentalis “Islprim Primo” Islprim Primo Arborvitae 3-8 Dwarf Deep green, twisted foliage; upright
2017 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Blue Surprise” Blue Surprise Lawson False Cypress 5-8 Dwarf Blue foliage, purple in winter; columnar form
2016 Picea pungens “Ruby Teardrops” Ruby Teardrops Colorado Spruce 3-8 Dwarf Blue-green foliage; bright red cones; globose form
2016 Thuja occidentalis “Jantar” Amber Gold Arborvitae 4-8 Intermediate Yellow foliage; upright habit
2016 Gingko biloba “Snow Cloud” Snow Cloud Maidenhair Tree 4-9 Intermediate Yellow-white leaves; open/sculptural form
2015 Pinus cembra “Herman” Prairie Statesman Swiss Stone Pine 3-7 Intermediate Narrow upright habit; green foliage
2015 Pinus parviflora “Tanima no yuki” Tanima No Yuki Japanese White Pine 5-9 Dwarf New growth is creamy pink that turns green as it matures; globose form
2015 Metasequoia glyptostroboides “Schirrmann’s Nordlicht” North Light Dawn Redwood 5-9 Dwarf Creamy-yellow foliage; branches have red highlights; globose form
2014 Pinus × schwerinii “Wiethorst” Wiethorst Hybrid Pine 4-8 Dwarf Pyramidal habit; long, blue-green needles in clusters
2014 Abies koreana “Kohout’s Icebreaker” Kohout’s Ice Breaker Korean Fir 5-8 Miniature Needles have white undersides that show due to the needles’ severe twisting; globose form
2013 Picea abies “Gold Drift” Gold Drift Norway Spruce 3-7 Large Yellow-green foliage; weeping form
2013 Pinus mugo “Carstens” Carstens Wintergold Mountain Pine 2-7 Dwarf Globose form; compact, broad clumps of bright gold foliage
2013 Cunninghamia konishii “Little Leo” Little Leo China Fir 6-9 Miniature Foliage is green in summer and bronze in winter; cushion form
2012 Sciadopitys verticillata “Picola” Picola Japanese Umbrella Pine 7-May Dwarf Bushy habit; dense, dark-green needles
2012 Cedrus brevifolia “Kenwith” Kenwith Lebanon Cedar 6-9 Dwarf Upright form; small, dark-green needles
2012 Picea abies “Wichtel” Wichtel Norway Spruce 3-7 Miniature Extremely small; tight structure; dark-green foliage
2011 Pinus parviflora “Bergman” Bergman Japanese White Pine 4-9 Dwarf Pyramidal habit; blue-green needles with bright red cones in spring
2011 Chamaecyparis obtusa “Chirimen” Chirimen Hinoki Cypress 5 Dwarf Blue-green foliage that form bottlebrush shapes; upright habit
2010 Gingko biloba “Mariken” Dwarf Maidenhair Tree 4-9 Dwarf Compact growth; green foliage that turns golden in fall
2010 Larix decidua “Puli” Puli Weeping European Larch 2 Large Upright weeping habit; light-green elegant foliage
2010 Taxodium distichum “Pevé Minaret” Pevé Minaret Bald Cypress 6-9 Dwarf Conical habit; dark-green dense foliage
2009 Pinus heldreichii “Smidtii” Smidt Bosnian Pine 5-8 Miniature Globose form; short, vibrant green needles
2009 Pinus strobus “Niagara Falls” Niagara Falls Eastern White Pine 3-8 Dwarf Weeping habit; blue-green foliage
2008 Picea pungens “The Blues” The Blues Colorado Spruce 3-8 Intermediate Weeping form; silver-blue needles
2008 Picea abies “Pusch” Pusch Norway Spruce 4-8 Dwarf Bright green needles; red cones in the spring; globose habit
2007 Picea omorika “Pendula Bruns” Bruns Weeping Serbian Spruce 9-Mar Intermediate Upright form; weeping branches; blue-green needles
2007 Picea orientalis “Tom Thumb Gold” Tom Thumb Gold Oriental Spruce 4-9 Miniature Golden foliage; mounding, globose form
2006 Metasequoia glyptostroboides “Ogon” Golden Dawn Redwood 5 Large Conical, upright habit; yellow, feathery needles
2006 Picea glauca var. albertiana “Pixie Dust” Pixie Dust White Spruce 3-8 Miniature Conical habit; new growth is yellow that turns green as it matures
SOURCE: ACS

These conifers are rare specimens. Purchase your own conifers from nurseries that specialize in rare and dwarf conifers to ensure the highest possible quality.

Abies concolor ‘Archer’s Dwarf’

Abies concolor Archers Dwarf fir evergreen conifer compact blue needles pyramidal
Archer’s Dwarf White Fir

Archer’s Dwarf is a silvery blue, upright dwarf with soft, incurved needles.

This conifer has a dense, predictable growth habit, and the branches will form a layered look over time. As the tree matures, it will form a conical shape, although it can be pruned into a round shape.

This shrub grows 3”-4” per year and can reach 6’ tall and 3’ wide without pruning.

Archer’s Dwarf grows well in full sun or part shade, as long as the soil is well-drained, fertile, and slightly acidic.

This specimen is perfect for landscapes, rock gardens, container gardens, city gardens, and cottage gardens.

Abies lasiocarpa ‘Green Globe’

Picea pungens Green Globe spruce evergreen conifer green needles dwarf subalpine
Green Globe Subalpine Fir

Green Globe is a semi-dwarf shrub with soft, short, light-green needles.

This conifer has a dense, globular growth habit, and the branches appear to sprout from the center of the shrub. As the plant grows and matures, it will form a slightly conical shape unless it is pruned.

This shrub grows 3”-6” per year and can reach 5’ tall and 5’ wide without pruning.

Green Globe grows well in full sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is perfect for landscapes, rock gardens, city gardens, and cottage gardens.

Gingko biloba ‘Clica’

Ginkgo biloba Clica conifer deciduous green small ruffled mound
Clica Maidenhair Tree

The Clica Maidenhair tree is a dwarf, multi-branched shrub with soft, ruffled leaves.

This tree has a dense, upright growth habit. The branches extend up and out from the center of the plant. As the tree matures, it can become more wide than tall.

This tree grows 3-4” per year and can reach 3’ tall and 4.5’ wide without pruning.

Clica grows well in full sun to part sun and in well-drained soils.

This specimen is perfect for landscapes and container gardens.

Picea abies ‘Acro-yellow’

Picea abies Acrocona KBN Yellow Acro Yellow spruce conifer evergreen cones yellow
Acro-yellow Norway Spruce

This bright yellow Norway Spruce has striking cherry-red cones in the spring.

This tree has a moderately dense, upright growth habit. The branches extend out vertically from the trunk. As the tree matures, it forms a traditional Christmas tree shape.

This tree grows 3”-5” per year and can reach 5’ tall and 3’ wide without pruning.

Acro-yellow grows well in full sun to part shade and in well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is perfect for landscapes, rock gardens, and container gardens.

Pinus koraiensis ‘Morris Blue’

Pinus koraiensis Morris Blue pine conifer evergreen blue needles narrow pyramidal korean cones
Morris Blue Korean Pine

This shaggy Korean pine has long, silver-blue needles and distinct, upright branches.

Morris Blue has an open, pyramidal growth habit. The branches are thick and bushy, and they curve upwards at the ends. As the tree matures, it forms a bushy pyramid and reveals an open structure with grey, shaggy bark.

This tree grows 6”-9” per year and can reach 8’ tall and 4’ wide without pruning.

Acro-yellow grows well in full sun to part shade and well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or accent plant in the landscape.

Pinus contorta var. latifolia ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’

Pinus contorta var latifolia Taylor's Sunburst pine evergreen conifer lodgepole yellow needles pollen cones
Taylor’s Sunburst Lodgepole Pine

Taylor’s Sunburst has a flush of bright gold growth in the spring, which is accented by fiery red cones.

This lodgepole pine has an open, upright, pyramidal growth habit. The branches are dense with needles, and curve up at the tips. As the tree matures, it forms a wide, open pyramid which reveals a textured, burnt-red bark.

This tree grows 6”-12” per year and can reach 15’ tall and 10’ wide without pruning.

Taylor’s Sunburst grows well in full sun to part sun and in well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or accent plant in the landscape or in city gardens because of its high pollution tolerance.

Pinus mugo ‘Paul’s Dwarf’

Pinus mugo Paul's Dwarf pine mugo conifer evergreen needles green dwarf
Paul’s Dwarf Mugo Pine

Paul’s Dwarf has short pairs of dark-green needles on dense, upright branches.

This extremely compact pine has an upright, globose growth habit. As the shrub matures, it forms a dense, mounding evergreen which may outgrow the designated area without annual pruning.

This shrub grows 2”-3” per year and can reach 3’ tall and 3’ wide without pruning.

Paul’s Dwarf grows well in full sun and well-drained, loamy, acidic soils.

This specimen is used in landscapes, rock gardens, container gardens, and as bonsai specimens.

Pinus thunbergii ‘Shirome Janome’

Pinus thunbergii Shirome janome pine conifer evergreen Japanese black pine green yellow variegated needles
Shirome Janome Japanese Black Pine

This unique Japanese black pine has green and yellow variegated foliage throughout the growing season.

Shirome Janome has an open, irregular growth habit. The branches are full of long, colorful needles with a sporadic branching habit.

This tree grows 6”-12” per year and can reach 10’ tall and 7’ wide without pruning.

Shirome Janome grows well in full sun and well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or accent plant in the landscape.

Abies cephalonica ‘Meyer’s Dwarf’

Abies cephalonica  Meyer's Dwarf fir evergreen conifer green needles drought tolerance
Meyer’s Dwarf Grecian Fir

This Grecian fir has dark-green needles that are short and somewhat spiky and contrast nicely with its small red cones.

Meyer’s Dwarf typically has an upright, pyramidal growth habit. Depending on how it’s propagated, Meyer’s Dwarf may have more of a mounding, spreading form. The branches curve downward slightly at the ends.

This tree grows 3”-6” per year and can reach 1.5’ tall and 3’ wide without pruning.

Meyer’s Dwarf grows well in full sun or part shade and well-drained, acidic soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a ground cover, border, or rock garden accent.

Cedrus libani ‘Katere’

Cedrus libani Katere cedar conifer evergreen gray green needles Cedar of Lebanon
Katere Cedar of Lebanon

This Lebanese cedar features long gray-green needles and dense growth.

Katere spreads horizontally, giving it a prostrate form that is almost flat.  

With an annual growth of 1”-2”, Katere is among the slowest-growing Cedars of Lebanon. After 10 years, this tree will measure approximately 10” tall and wide.

Katere grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen works well in rock gardens or other small garden spaces.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Filip’s Golden Tears’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Filips Golden tears cypress conifer evergreen narrow upright weeping Lawson gold variegated
Filip’s Golden Tears Lawson False Cypress

Filip’s Golden Tears features green foliage with golden highlights that give it a variegated appearance.

This tree is upright and very narrow with weeping branches.

Filip’s Golden Tears grows at a rate of 18”-24” per year, and most of that growth is vertical. After 10 years, this tree will reach 15’ tall but only 2’ wide.

Filip’s Golden Tears grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or garden accent.

Picea abies ‘Lemonade’

Picea abies Lemonade spruce evergreen conifer Norway gold needles foliage
Lemonade Norway Spruce

This rare Norway Spruce has bright golden needles whose color becomes even brighter in the winter. The needles are short and dense. It doesn’t produce cones.

Lemonade Norway Spruce has a broadly pyramidal form with semi-pendulous branches.

This vigorous tree grows over 1’ per year. At full maturity, Lemonade will reach 12’ tall and 8’ wide.

Lemonade grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or garden accent.

Picea orientalis ‘Ferny Creek Prostrate’

Picea orientalis Ferny Creek Prostrate spruce evergreen conifer flat spreading Caucasian spruce green needles
Ferny Creek Prostrate Oriental Spruce

This unusual shrub features dark-green needles that are very short and radiate around each branch.

As its name suggests, Ferny Creek Prostrate has a flat, spreading habit.

This shrub grows approximately 2”-4” per year, mostly in a horizontal direction. When mature, Ferny Creek Prostrate is only 2’ tall but 4’ wide.

Ferny Creek Prostrate grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen works well in rock gardens or other small garden spaces.

Picea pungens ‘Blue Pearl’

Picea pungens Blue Pearl spruce conifer evergreen cushion globose blue needles
Blue Pearl Colorado Spruce

As its name suggests, Blue Pearl has blue, prickly needles that contrast nicely with its orange-brown buds.

Blue Pearl’s dense, globular branches create a cushion shape. The branches radiate from the main trunk and angle slightly upward.

The word “cute” comes to mind when looking at this miniature spruce. It grows 1” or less per year, and at full maturity, will be approximately 6” tall and 12” wide.

Blue Pearl grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen works well in rock gardens, small garden spaces, or as a dwarf landscape feature.

Pinus parviflora ‘Catherine Elizabeth’

Pinus parviflora Catherine Elizabeth pine conifer evergreen irregular dwarf Japanese White pine blue green twisted needles
Catherine Elizabeth Japanese White Pine

This unusual specimen of Japanese White Pine features short, blue-green needles.

Catherine Elizabeth’s foliage is clumpy and bushy. The branching is irregular, and with age, the tree spreads horizontally, creating a broad globose or pyramidal form.

This tree’s annual growth ranges from 2”-4”. After ten years, Catherine Elizabeth will approximately 2’ tall and 3’ wide. Yearly pruning is recommended to remove old branches or foliage that has collected in the tree’s interior branches.

Catherine Elizabeth grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen works well in rock gardens, small garden spaces, or as a dwarf landscape feature.

Cedrus atlantica ‘Sapphire Nymph’

Cedrus atlantica Sapphire Nymph cedar evergreen conifer dwarf prostrate needles blue prickly
Sapphire Nymph Atlas Cedar

This tree has short, silver-blue needles that are stiff and dense. The needles spiral outward from their stems.

Sapphire Nymph’s form is low-growing and broadly pyramidal. Growers can stake Sapphire Nymphs, which allows them to cascade from the height of the stake.

This tree will grow 1”-3” per year. At full maturity, Sapphire Nymph will be about 10” tall and 30” wide.

Sapphire Nymph grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is hard to propagate, and its branches can be delicate. It will do well in rock gardens or small garden spaces.

Platycladus orientalis ‘Franky Boy’

Thuja orientalis Franky Boy arborvitae conifer evergreen Chinese yellow green needles fall colors
Franky Boy Chinese Arborvitae

This unusual conifer’s foliage resembles ornamental grasses. Its interior foliage is lime green, while its exterior foliage is bright yellow. In the summer, the yellow is more pronounced; in fall and winter, it takes on more orange and bronze tones.

Franky Boy’s branches are filamentous, light-textured, and upright, which adds to its resemblance to ornamental grasses.

This tree grows 3”-6” per year, reaching 6’ high and 4’ wide at full maturity. Light pruning will encourage new growth and allow growers to maintain its graceful form.

Franky Boy grows well in full sun, where its color will become more intense, and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or accent plant in the landscape.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Islprim’ Primo®

Islprim Primo® Arborvitae

This tree features lush, deep-green summer foliage that turns a more muted green in the winter. The foliage is twisted and compact which creates a unique, textured appearance.

Islprim’s twisted foliage and upright form produce a narrow, sculptured shape.

This tree grows 3”-5” per year. At full maturity, it measures approximately 4’ high and 1’ wide.

Islprim grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily in rock gardens, container gardens, or as a landscape accent.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Blue Surprise cypress evergreen conifer blue silver upright
Blue Surprise Lawson False Cypress

This tree is visually striking in both summer and winter. In the summer, its foliage is bright blue; in the winter, it takes on a plum purple color. Its foliage is also soft and feathery, which gives it a unique texture as well as unique color.

Blue Surprise is columnar in shape and very narrow. Its branches grow strictly upward.

Annually, this tree grows 3”-5”. After ten years, it will be approximately 5’ tall and 1.5’ wide.

Blue Surprise grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a lawn tree or accent plant in the landscape.

Picea pungens ‘Ruby Teardrops’

Picea pungens Ruby Teardrops spruce evergreen conifer globose Colorado teal blue seed cones red magenta
Ruby Teardrops Colorado Spruce

This rare Colorado Spruce features a striking color combination, with blue-green foliage and cones that are red or magenta in the spring. In the summer, its foliage becomes a lighter sky blue.

Ruby Teardrops’ form is irregular, globose, and spreading.

This tree grows approximately 2”-4” per year. After ten years, it will be about 2’ tall and 3’ wide.

Blue Surprise grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its color, Blue Surprise is used as a garden or landscape accent.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Jantar’

Thuja occidentalis Jantar arborvitae conifer evergreen narrow upright golden needles
Amber Gold Arborvitae

This bright yellow tree has foliage that turns a rich amber shade in the winter, providing visual interest all year round. In fact, the name ‘Jantar’ comes from this tree’s native Poland, where “jantar” means “amber.”

‘Jantar’s’ habit is narrow and upright with dense branches and foliage.

This tree grows approximately 6”-12” per year, reaching 15’ high and 3’ wide at full maturity.

‘Jantar’ grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used as a lawn tree, privacy screen, or landscape accent.

Gingko biloba ‘Snow Cloud’

Ginkgo biloba Snow Cloud conifer deciduous green Maidenhair tree creamy yellow white leaves variegated
Snow Cloud Maidenhead Tree

The Snow Cloud Maidenhead Tree has leaves that are a creamy yellow-white on their tips. The leaves retain the creamy color, never turning fully green. In the fall, the foliage becomes bright gold.

The leaves on this tree are broader than those of many other conifers, and the tree itself has an open and structural form. Growers may wish to stake it to encourage a particular shape or habit.

Annually, Snow Cloud grows 6”-12”. After ten years, it will be roughly 10’ tall by 4’ wide, depending on its training.

Snow Cloud grows well in part shade and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used as a garden or landscape accent.

Pinus cembra ‘Herman’

Prairie Statesman® Swiss Stone Pine

This relatively new Swiss Stone Pine cultivar has emerald green needles with silver-blue highlights. The needles are longer and stiffer than the needles found on other pine species.

‘Herman’ has a narrow, upright form. Its branches grow upward and curve inward and are very dense. Pruning is not necessary to maintain its form.

This tree grows approximately 6”-12” per year. After ten years, it will be approximately 10’ tall.

‘Herman’ is cold and drought-tolerant, but does best in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used as a lawn tree or privacy screen.

Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no yuki’

Pinus parviflora Tanima no yuki pine conifer evergreen Snow of the Valley Japanese pink cream green variegated needles
Tanima No Yuki Japanese White Pine

This unusual Japanese White Pine produces pink candles in the spring. Its new growth is a creamy, pinkish-white color that contrasts nicely with its mature gray-green foliage.

Tanima No Yuki has a globose or pyramidal form with cushion-shaped branching patterns.

This tree grows slowly, approximately 3”-6” per year. At maturity, it will reach about 3’ high and 1.5’ wide.

Tanima No Yuki is susceptible to sunburn, so grows best in part shade and well-drained soils.

Because of its color, this specimen is used as a garden or landscape accent.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Schirrmann’s Nordlicht’

Metasequoia glyptostroboides Schirrmann's Nordlicht dawn redwood conifer deciduous North Light needles
North Light Dawn Redwood

This Dawn Redwood tree has fern-like foliage that is creamy-yellow as it emerges and turns green as it ages. North Light is deciduous, and its foliage will turn brown before shedding.

North Light’s branches have reddish highlights, which add to its visual interest. Its growth habit is globose or pyramidal.

This tree grows about 3”-6” per year. After ten years, it will be approximately 3’ tall and 3’ wide. It handles pruning well.

North Light is susceptible to sunburn, so grows best in part shade and well-drained soils.

Because of its color, this specimen is used as a garden or landscape accent.

Pinus × schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’

Pinus schwerinii Wiethorst pine evergree conifer White Himalayan pine long needles narrow pyramidal dwarf
Wiethorst Hybrid Pine

This pine hybrid features clusters of blue-green needles that are long and delicate. Its cones are creamy-pink when new and become oversized as they develop.

Wiethorst has an upright, pyramidal form. It handles pruning well. If the tree grows unpruned, it will create its own unique, pillowy shape.

Annually, Wiethorst grows approximately 3”-6”. After ten years, it will be approximately 5’ tall and 3’ wide.

This tree grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Wiethorst is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Abies koreana ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’

Abies koreana Icebreaker fir conifer evergreen Korean green white silver recurved needles miniature globose
Kohout’s Ice Breaker Korean Fir

This Korean fir’s needles are green, but twist severely around their branches. The needles have silvery-white undersides which show very clearly, giving the tree a constant snow-dusted look.

When young, Kohout’s Ice Breaker is globose in form, but becomes more pyramidal as it matures. It does not require pruning.

This tree is very slow-growing, only gaining 1”-3” per year. After ten years, it will be about 2’ high and 3’ wide.

Kohout’s Ice Breaker grows best in full sun and slightly acidic, well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, or containers.

Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’

Picea abies Gold Drift spruce evergreen conifer Norway yellow gold needles
Gold Drift Norway Spruce

This interesting spruce has lime green needles that turn bright yellow in full sun. The needles are short and stiff.

Gold Drift has pendulous branches and a decidedly weeping habit. If it’s staked, it can be trained to grow upright; if left to its own devices, it will stay low and mound.

This tree grows rapidly, over 12” per year. If staked, it will be approximately 12’-15’ tall and 2’ wide after ten years.

Gold Drift grows best in full sun and slightly acidic, well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily in small gardens, as a lawn tree, or as a landscape accent.

Pinus mugo ‘Carstens’

Pinus mugo Carstens pine evergreen conifer compact globose dwarf yellow
Carstens Wintergold Mountain Pine

This Mountain Pine is aptly named, as it features compact clumps of short green needles that turn bright gold in winter.

Carstens’ growth habit is dense and cushion-shaped.

A slow grower, Carstens adds only about 1”-2” of new growth annually. After ten years, it will be 1’-2’ tall and wide.

Carstens grows best in full sun and well-drained soils. It is tolerant of a variety of pH levels and soil types.

This specimen is used primarily in small gardens and rock gardens.

Cunninghamia konishii ‘Little Leo’

Cunninghamia konishii Little Leo Taiwan coffin fir conifer evergreen miniature cushion round
Little Leo China Fir

This very rare shrub features very short, prickly needles that are green during the summer and take on bronze overtones in the winter.

Little Leo’s branchlets are twisting. Its growth habit is cushion-shaped, with a somewhat flattened top.

This shrub grows 1”-1.5” per year. At full maturity, it is quite small, only about 6” tall and 12”-18” wide. Dead foliage from the internal branches will need to be cleared out once a year to help the plant stay healthy.

Little Leo grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and containers.

Sciadopitys verticillata ‘Picola’

Sciadopitys verticillata Picola fir evergreen conifer Japanese Umbrella Pine green needles pyramidal miniature
Picola Japanese Umbrella Pine

This Japanese Umbrella Pine features short, thin, dark-green needles.

Picola has dense, compact branches that give it a bushy habit. Its form is upright and broad.

This tree grows approximately 3”-5” per year. After ten years, it will reach 4’ tall and 3’ wide.

Picola grows well in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Cedrus brevifolia ‘Kenwith’

Cedrus brevifolia Kenwith cedar conifer evergreen Cypriot miniature small needles
Kenwith Lebanon Cedar

This Lebanese Cedar has small, lush green needles. Its appearance is similar to Bonsai trees.

Kenwith’s branches are stubby and curve inward. Its mature form is broad and upright.

This tree grows about 1”-3” per year. After ten years, it will be approximately 2’ tall and 1.5’ wide.

Kenwith grows well in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and containers.

Picea abies ‘Wichtel’

Picea abies Wichtel spruce conifer evergreen witch's broom miniature
Wichtel Norway Spruce

This miniature tree features very short dark-green needles.

Wichtel’s growth habit is cushion or bun-shaped. It has a tight, congested branching structure. To protect the plant’s health, dead foliage and branches must be cleared out annually.

The name ‘Wichtel’ comes from the German word for “gnome,” which is appropriate given this tree’s size. Its growth rate is less than 0.5” per year, and at full maturity, it is only about 3”-4” tall and wide.

Wichtel is prone to sunburn, but too much shade can lead to rot. Partial shade and well-drained soils are best.

Because of its size and sunlight needs, this specimen is primarily grown in containers.

Pinus parviflora ‘Bergman’

Pinus parviflora Bergman pine evergreen conifer compact Japanese white pine silver blue twisted needles
Bergman Japanese White Pine

This Japanese White Pine has twisting, blue-green needles. In the spring, it has an abundance of bright red cones that add contrast and visual interest.

Bergman has a broad upright or pyramidal form. Its branching structure is dense.

This tree grows 6”-9” per year. At full maturity, it stands 6’ tall and 3’ wide.

Bergman grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is primarily used as a lawn tree or landscape accent.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chirimen’

Chamaecyparis obtusa Chirimen hinoki cypress conifer evergreen sculptural green needles
Chirimen Hinoki Cypress

This unique tree has variegated blue-green foliage. The foliage is also crinkly and congested, providing a mix of textures as well. In fact, the name ‘Chirimen’ comes from the name of a Japanese crepe fabric that resembles the texture of this tree’s leaves.

Chirimen’s branches are thick and upright. With the dense foliage, each shoot creates a bottlebrush shape.

This tree grows 3”-5” per year. At full maturity, it will stand 4’ tall and 2’ wide.

Chirimen grows well in full sun or partial shade and must have excellent drainage.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Gingko biloba ‘Mariken’

Ginkgo biloba Mariken Maidenhair tree deciduous conifer globose compact gold yellow fall color leaves
Dwarf Maidenhair Tree

This Maidenhair tree has leaves of varying size and varying shades of green. In the fall, the leaves turn an orange-gold color. The foliage grows densely.

Mariken’s branches are semi-pendulous and compact. It has a spreading habit that eventually takes the shape of a somewhat flattened sphere.

Annually, this tree grows 3”-4”. After ten years, it will be roughly 2’ tall and 2.5’ wide.

Mariken grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and as a landscape accent.

Larix decidua ‘Puli’

Larix decidua Puli European Larch conifer deciduous green lacy foliage yellow needles fall
Puli Weeping European Larch

This elegant tree features light-green, lacy, cascading foliage. In the fall, the foliage turns yellow before shedding.

Puli’s branches are delicate, slender, and decidedly weeping. It has a spreading habit, and when staked, it can be trained to grow upright to a desired height. If the tree is left unstaked, it works well as a ground cover.

This tree grows 12”-15” per year. Because it will not grow upright without a stake, its mature height will vary.

Puli grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Taxodium distichum ‘Pevé Minaret’

Taxodium distichum Peve Minaret Bald Cypress conifer deciduous dwarf upright green needles extreme temperatures
Pevé Minaret Bald Cypress

This dwarf Bald Cypress grows small tufts of lush green foliage.

Pevé Minaret’s branches are dense. Its growth habit is narrow and conical. It can be pruned to encourage new growth.

This tree grows roughly 3”-6” per year. After ten years, it stands approximately 4’ high and 3’ wide.

Pevé Minaret grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Pinus heldreichii ‘Smidtii’

Pinus heldreichii Smidtii Bosnian pine evergreen conifer dwarf green needles dense
Smidt Bosnian Pine

This Bosnian Pine features green needles that are sharp, rigid, and point upward.

Smidt’s branching structure is dense and compact. Young trees are globose, but become more conical as the mature.

This tree grows very slowly, only about 1” per year. After ten years, they reach 12”-18” tall and wide. No pruning is required.

Smidt grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and containers.

Pinus strobus ‘Niagara Falls’

Pinus strobus Niagara Falls eastern white pine conifer evergreen weeping dense long needles
Niagara Falls Eastern White Pine

This Eastern White Pine cultivar has long blue-green needles.

Niagara Falls’ branches are semi-pendulous and weeping. This tree has a spreading habit and can be staked to a desired height before cascading downward.

Annually, this tree grows 3”-5”. Because it will not grow upright without a stake, its mature height will vary from 1’-5’.

Niagara Falls grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Picea pungens ‘The Blues’

Picea pungens The Blues Colorado spruce evergreen conifer weeping blue needles
The Blues Colorado Spruce

This striking Colorado Spruce tree has large, silver-blue needles.

The Blues’ branches are weeping, and as a whole, the tree has a mounding, spreading habit. Growers can stake it to a certain height, let it ramble, or train it to grow along the top of a fence or wall. No pruning is necessary.

This tree grows about 6”-12” per year. Because it will not grow upright without a stake, its mature height will vary, but it can reach heights of 5’-6’.

The Blues grows well in full sun and slightly acidic, well-drained soils.

This specimen is used primarily as a garden or landscape accent.

Picea abies ‘Pusch’

Picea abies Pusch spruce conifer evergreen miniature red cones
Pusch Norway Spruce

This shrub has dark green needles that are short and dense. In the spring, it produces bright red cones on the tips of most of its branches.

Pusch has layered lateral branches and a globose growth habit. It does not require pruning.

This shrub grows slowly, only about 1”-2” per year. After ten years, it will be approximately 2’ tall and 3’ wide.

Pusch grows well in full sun and slightly acidic, well-drained soils.

Because of its small size, this specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, borders, and containers.

Picea omorika ‘Pendula Bruns’

Picea omorika Pendula Bruns Serbian spruce evergreen conifer narrow upright weeping bi-colored needles
Bruns Weeping Serbian Spruce

This unique Serbian Spruce is an evergreen that has lush blue-green needles.

As its name suggests, Bruns’ branches are pendulous and weeping. Its form is columnar and very narrow, with the branches cascading very near the trunk. It does not require pruning.

This tree grows approximately 6”-12” annually. At full maturity, it will stand about 15’ tall and 3’ wide. If left unstaked, it will eventually start to twist.

Bruns grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

This specimen is primarily used as a lawn tree or landscape accent.

Picea orientalis ‘Tom Thumb Gold’

Picea orientalis Tom Thumb Gold oriental Caucasian spruce evergreen conifer miniature mound gold yellow needles
Tom Thumb Gold Oriental Spruce

This dwarf tree has bright golden needles that are short and stiff. The needles turn green when the plant doesn’t get enough sun.

Tom Thumb Gold’s growth is compact and dense. As it matures, it forms a bun shape.

A slow grower, Tom Thumb Gold will gain 1”-1.5” per year. At full maturity, it will reach 10” high and 12” wide.

Tom Thumb Gold is prone to sunburn; however, too little sun is also harmful. Partial shade and well-drained soils are best.

Because of its small size, this specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and containers.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Ogon’

Metasequoia glyptostroboides Ogon Gold Rush Dawn Redwood deciduous conifer fast growing pyramidal gold yellow foliage
Golden Dawn Redwood

This unique conifer features delicate, bright yellow-green leaves. The foliage grows in flat, feathery sprays. In the summer, the leaves become bright gold; in the fall, they turn orange-brown before being shed.

Also known as ‘Gold Rush,’ this tree requires very little pruning to maintain its conical, upright growth habit. Branches angle upward, giving mature trees a buttressed appearance.

This tree grows rapidly, as much as 2’ per year. Its full height can be as tall as 70’-80’ with a full width of 25’-30’.

‘Ogon’ is tolerant of a variety of soils, including soils that drain poorly. Full sun or partial shade is best.

This specimen is grown primarily as a lawn tree or in groves.

Picea glauca var. albertiana ‘Pixie Dust’

Picea glauca Pixie Dust Alberta spruce conifer evergreen dwarf yellow green needles
Pixie Dust White Spruce

This miniature Alberta Spruce has bi-colored needles. New growth comes in the form of yellow tufts of needles that turn green as they mature. The yellow tufts at the ends of its branches are what give this tree the name ‘Pixie Dust.’

Pixie Dust’s branches are very dense and curve upward. Its form is conical without pruning.

This tree grows about 0.75”-1.5” each year. After ten years, it will be approximately 15” tall and 8” wide.

Pixie Dust grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Because of its small size, this specimen is used primarily in small gardens, rock gardens, and containers.

For more information on caring for dwarf conifers, please see our other articles on pruning, container growing, and basic conifer care.

For the full list of the American Conifer Society’s Conifer of the Year awards, please see here.