There are so many identifying features on Picea pungens it is hard to choose the best or easiest ones. Cones will always be the best way to identify a conifer but in the absence of those look for the stiff, sharp radiating needles, orange-brown stem and rosette buds. The only other species you may confuse this with is Picea glauca but its needles are shorter and not as sharp.
Karren Wcisel, TreeTopics.com
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Pinaceae, tree, conifer, cone, needle, evergreen, Picea pungens, Colorado spruce, blue spruce