Create Your Garden

Abies concolor (White Fir)

White Fir, Balsam Fir, Colorado Fir, Concolor Fir, Silver Fir, White Balsam, Oyamel De California

Abies concolor, White Fir, Balsam Fir, Colorado Fir, Concolor Fir, Silver Fir, White Balsam, Oyamel De California
Abies concolor, White Fir, Balsam Fir, Colorado Fir, Concolor Fir, Silver Fir, White Balsam, Oyamel De California

Abies concolor, commonly known as the white fir, is a native North American conifer belonging to the pine family (Pinaceae). It is renowned for its attractive, bluish-green needle-like foliage and its tall, straight stature. Esteemed for its adaptability, it serves as an excellent specimen tree in landscapes and is also widely used as a Christmas tree.

Native: The White Fir is native to the mountainous regions of western North America, from the Rockies in Colorado to the coastal ranges of California and Oregon, and southwards into northern Mexico. It thrives in elevations from 2300 to 11000 feet and is typically found in mixed conifer forests.

Description: White Fir is a magnificent evergreen conifer with a pyramidal shape, especially when young. As the tree matures, it maintains its pyramidal form but may become more cylindrical. The branches are arranged in a horizontal, whorled pattern around the trunk, contributing to its symmetrical, full appearance. Its distinguishing characteristic is its soft, silvery-blue or blue-green needles, which are flat, long (up to 3 inches or 7 cm), and pleasantly aromatic. The bark is gray and smooth when young, becoming more furrowed and roughened as the tree matures.

Size: It typically reaches 80 to 120 feet (24 to 36 meters) in height with a spread of 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) at maturity in its native range. This is a fairly slow-growing tree. In gardens, the tree will reach 40-70 feet (12-21 meters) tall and 15-25 feet (4.5-7.5 meters) wide when mature.

Cones: The cones of the White Fir are unique among fir trees. They are upright, cylindrical, 3 to 6 inches long (7-15 cm), and range in color from green to purplish-brown. Unlike other fir trees, the cones disintegrate on the tree instead of falling to the ground whole.

Hardiness: Abies concolor is hardy in USDA zones 4-7.

Soil and Sunlight: This fir is tolerant of heat and drought once established, making it more adaptable to different environments compared to many other fir trees. It prefers rich, well-drained, slightly acidic, moist, gravelly, or sandy-loam soils and full sun to partial shade.

Uses: The wood of the White Fir is soft and lightweight, making it popular for construction, millwork, and pulpwood. The tree is also widely used as a Christmas tree due to its pleasing shape, color, and needle retention. Its aromatic foliage and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for ornamental planting and windbreaks.

Benefits: The tree is excellent for erosion control on slopes and hillsides. It also helps improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen.

Wildlife: The seeds are eaten by squirrels, rodents, and some bird species. The dense foliage provides shelter for birds and small mammals.

Deer and Rabbits: White Fir is moderately resistant to damage from deer. It’s not a preferred food source, so deer usually only eat it when other food sources are scarce. Rabbits may chew on the bark of young trees in winter.

Toxicity: The tree is non-toxic to humans and pets. However, ingesting needles or bark may cause mild stomach upset.

Pruning: No pruning is required.

Propagation: Propagating Abies concolor can be done through seeds or softwood cuttings. Seed is the easiest method of propagation.

  • Seed Propagation
    • Seed Collection: Seeds can be collected from mature cones in the late summer or early fall, before they open naturally. Ensure you select cones from healthy, vigorous trees.
    • Seed Stratification: Many Abies seeds require a cold stratification period to break dormancy. This involves placing the seeds in a sealed plastic bag with moist sand or peat moss and refrigerating for about 6 weeks.
    • Planting: After stratification, sow the seeds in a well-draining seed-starting mix, covering them lightly. Keep the container in a cool, bright location but away from direct sunlight, and keep the soil lightly moist.
    • Germination: Seedlings usually appear in a few weeks. Wait until they’ve grown a set of true leaves, then transplant them into individual pots.
  • Softwood Cutting Propagation
    • Cutting Collection: In late spring to early summer, take cuttings about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long from healthy branches. Make sure your cuttings have at least one node (the point where leaves attach), but remove the lower leaves to reduce moisture loss.
    • Preparation: Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone powder to promote root development.
    • Planting: Insert the cuttings into pots filled with a well-draining mix such as half perlite and half peat. Bury at least one node under the soil.
    • Care: Keep the soil moist and the cutting in indirect light. You can also cover the cutting with a plastic bag to retain moisture, but ensure it does not touch the cutting.
    • Rooting: Rooting often takes several weeks to a few months. Once roots have developed, cuttings can be transplanted into a larger pot or their final location

Pests and Diseases: Pests and diseases can vary significantly by geographic region and local environmental conditions. The list below does not include every potential disease or pest issue. When treating disease or pest problems, it’s best to consult with a local extension service or professional arborist for specific recommendations.

Pest:

Diseases:

  • Cankers: These are areas of dead tissue on the bark of a tree, often caused by fungal pathogens. Cankers can girdle branches or trunks, disrupting nutrient flow and causing dieback.
  • Heart Rot: A fungal disease that causes decay in the heartwood of the tree.
  • Needle Cast: This is a fungal disease that causes needles to turn color (usually brown or yellow) and drop prematurely from the tree. Over time, it can significantly weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to other stressors.
  • Needle Rust: This is a fungal disease that causes yellow to orange pustules on needles. Infected needles often drop prematurely, and severe infections can lead to significant defoliation.
  • Root Rot: This is a condition typically caused by a variety of soil-borne fungi. It causes the decay and death of root tissue, leading to a decline in the tree’s health and potentially causing tree death.
  • Twig Blight: This is a condition usually caused by fungal pathogens, leading to the death of twigs and small branches. Symptoms often include discoloration, wilting, and dieback of twigs and branches.

Fun Facts: One fascinating fact about the White Fir is that it can live for over 300 years. Also, it’s one of the few firs that tolerate the heat and dry conditions of lower mountain slopes. This adaptability, along with its attractive features, make Abies concolor a valuable tree both for landscaping and commercial use.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Abies
Common names White Fir, Fir, Concolor Fir, Silver Fir
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 70'
(12.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fragrant
Native Plants United States, Massachusetts, Maine, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Northeast, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah
Tolerance Drought
Attracts Birds
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Abies (Fir)
Not sure which Abies (Fir) to pick?
Compare Now

Alternative Plants to Consider

Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir)
Abies procera (Noble Fir)
Abies lasiocarpa (Subalpine Fir)
Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir)
Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir)
Abies grandis (Grand Fir)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

37 Best Evergreen Trees for Privacy and Year-Round Interest
Small Evergreen Shrubs for Year-Round Appeal
Abies (Fir) – What Is Wrong With My Tree?
Abies (Fir)
Abies (Fir) – Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
Buy Plants

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 7
Heat Zones 1 - 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Abies
Common names White Fir, Fir, Concolor Fir, Silver Fir
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 70'
(12.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fragrant
Native Plants United States, Massachusetts, Maine, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Northeast, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah
Tolerance Drought
Attracts Birds
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Abies (Fir)
Not sure which Abies (Fir) to pick?
Compare Now

Gardening Ideas

Plant Calculator

How many Abies concolor (White Fir) do I need for my garden?

Input your garden space dimensions

Your Shopping List

Plant Quantity
Abies concolor (White Fir) N/A Buy Plants

Please Login to Proceed

You Have Reached The Free Limit, Please Subscribe to Proceed

Subscribe to Gardenia

To create additional collections, you must be a paid member of Gardenia
  • Add as many plants as you wish
  • Create and save up to 25 garden collections
Become a Member

Plant Added Successfully

You have Reached Your Limit

To add more plants, you must be a paid member of our site Become a Member

Update Your Credit
Card Information

Cancel

Create a New Collection

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

    You have been subscribed successfully

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Find your Hardiness Zone

    Find your Heat Zone

    Find your Climate Zone