White fir

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 Abies concolor subsp. var.  White fir, Blue fir, Colorado white fir, Silver fir
White fir MN 2007.JPG
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
120ft 25ft
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 120 ft
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 25 ft
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Oregon to N Mexico
Exposure: sun
Water: moist, moderate
Features: evergreen, foliage
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 5 to 9
Sunset Zones: 1-9, 14-24, 34-37, 39, 41
Flower features:
Pinaceae > Abies concolor var. ,

Native to mountains of the West and Southwest, but can do well in Northwest and humid-summer parts of North and Northeast. Also does well in lower Midwest and in some lower-elevation parts of interior West. Reaches 50-70 feet in gardens. Bluish-green needles which are 1-2 inches long.

The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 2.5-6 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5-1 mm thick, green to glaucous blue-green above, and with two glaucous blue-white bands of stomata below, and slightly notched to bluntly pointed at the tip. The leaf arrangement is spiral on the shoot, but with each leaf variably twisted at the base so they all lie in either two more-or-less flat ranks on either side of the shoot, or upswept across the top of the shoot but not below the shoot. The cones are 6-12 cm long and 4-4.5 cm broad, green or purple ripening pale brown, with about 100-150 scales; the scale bracts are short, and hidden in the closed cone. The winged seeds are released when the cones disintegrate at maturity about 6 months after pollination.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

A. concolor, Lindl. & Gord. (A. Lowidna, A. Murr. A. Parsonsiana, Hort., the Pacific form). White Fir. Tree, 100-250 ft.: trunk 4-6 ft. in diam.: leaves elongated, stomatiferous on the upper surface, on fertile branches often falcate and thickened and keeled above: cones, oblong, gray-green, dark purple or bright canary-yellow, 3-5 in. long; bracts shorter than their scales. W. N. Amer. from S. Ore. to Low. Calif. and to Utah, S. Colo., New Mex., Ariz, and Sonora. —Of all fir trees, the Colorado form best withstands heat and drought; very hardy, grows rapidly, and the most desirable of the genus in the eastern states. The form from the Pacific coast is less hardy and less desirable in the E. as an ornamental tree. Seedlings of the Colorado form, with rather longer and more glaucous leaves, are found in nurseries as A. concolor violacea.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

More information about this species can be found on the genus page.


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  • Abies concolor subsp. lowiana - Low's White Fir
  • 'Candicans' is bluish white.
  • Var. aurea. Young shoots golden yellow in May, afterward becoming silver-gray.CH
  • Var. brevifolia. Lvs. short and obtuse, twice as broad as in typical form. CH
  • Var. falcata. Lvs. sickle-shaped, curved upward. CH
  • Var. globosa. Plant spherical, with symmetrical small branches.CH
Foliage and cones of subsp. concolor

As treated here, there are two subspecies; these are also variously treated at either the lower rank of variety by some authors, or as distinct species by others:

  • Abies concolor subsp. concolor. Colorado White Fir or Rocky Mountains White Fir. In the United States, at altitudes of 1700-3400 m in the Rocky Mountains from southern Idaho south through Utah and Colorado to New Mexico and Arizona, and on the higher Great Basin mountains of Nevada and extreme southeastern California, and a short distance into northern Sonora, Mexico. A smaller tree to 25-35 m tall, rarely 45 m. Foliage strongly upcurved to erect on all except weak shaded shoots in the lower crown; leaves mostly 3.5-6 cm, and strongly glaucous on the upper side with numerous stomata. Tolerates winter temperatures down to about -40°C.
  • Abies concolor subsp. lowiana (syn. A. lowiana). Low's White Fir or Sierra Nevada White Fir. In the United States, at altitudes of 900-2700 m from the Cascades of central Oregon south through California (Klamath Mountains, Sierra Nevada) to northern Baja California, Mexico. A larger tree to 40-60 m tall. Foliage flattened on lower crown shoots, the leaves often raised above the shoot on upper crown shoots but not often strongly upcurved; leaves mostly 2.5-5 cm, and only weakly glaucous on the upper side with few or no stomata. Tolerates winter temperatures down to about -30°C.

White Fir is very closely related to Grand Fir (Abies grandis), with subspecies lowiana being particularly similar to the interior variety of Grand Fir A. grandis var. idahoensis, intergrading with it where they meet in the Cascades of central Oregon. To the south in Mexico, it is replaced by further close relatives, Durango Fir (A. durangensis) and Mexican Fir (A. mexicana).

White fir, being shade tolerant, is a climax species in forest succession in the Sierra Nevada, and in the presence of modern human controls against forest fires, it has flourished over the past two centuries. It is sometimes regarded as a pest by those in the lumber industry, as it drives out trees of greater stature (such as the sugar pine and incense cedar), has weaker, knottier wood than its competitors, and retains its lower limbs. This latter trait creates a fire ladder that allows flames to reach up to the canopy, thinning out giant sequoia stands that would escape smaller forest fires with minimal damage.[1]



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