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Abies procera (Noble Fir)

Noble Fir, abies nobilis

abies procera, noble firl, abies nobilis
abies procera, noble firl, abies nobilis

Abies procera, commonly known as Noble Fir, is a native North American conifer belonging to the pine family (Pinaceae). This large, majestic evergreen conifer is renowned for its imposing height, symmetrical form, and attractive blue-green needles. It is widely used as a Christmas tree and for its high-quality timber.

Native: Noble Fir is native to the cool, moist climates of the Pacific Northwest of North America, specifically in the Cascade Range and Coastal Range of Washington and Oregon and into northern California.

Description: Noble Fir is a grand, evergreen tree species with branches evenly spaced and horizontal, forming a symmetrical, pyramid-like structure. The needles are roughly 1 inch long (2.5 cm), beautifully blue-green, curved upwards to reveal the lower branch surface, and possess a sweet fragrance when crushed. The bark is gray and smooth in younger trees but becomes furrowed and reddish-brown as the tree matures.

Size: It can reach up to 80-200 feet (24-60 meters) in height and 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) in spread in its native habitats.

Cones: The cones of the Noble Fir are unique among firs for their upright position on the branches. They are purplish, large, 10 inches (25 cm) long, cylindrical, and disintegrate upon maturity to release their seeds.

Hardiness: Noble Fir is hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to -30ºF (-34ºC). It is categorized as USDA hardiness zones 5-6.

Soil and Sunlight: As a high-elevation species, Noble Fir prefers well-drained, moist soils and cool, humid conditions. It’s a sun-loving species, needing full sun exposure for the best growth, but can tolerate partial shade.

Uses: Noble Fir is widely grown for Christmas trees due to its symmetrical shape, attractive blue-green foliage, and excellent needle retention. Its strong branches are ideal for hanging heavy ornaments.

Benefits: Noble Fir trees play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems by preventing soil erosion, regulating water cycles, and acting as a carbon sink. They also offer aesthetic value, making them ideal for landscaping and as specimen trees.

Wildlife: Noble Fir provides shelter and nesting sites for birds and small mammals. The seeds are eaten by squirrels, crossbills, and other wildlife.

Deer and Rabbits: Deer and rabbits may browse young trees; however, mature trees are generally left alone.

Toxicity: No parts of the Noble Fir are known to be toxic to humans or pets. However, ingesting large quantities of needles may cause stomach upset in dogs or cats.

Pruning: No pruning is required.

Propagation: This species is propagated from seed. Before sowing, stratify the seeds by placing them in a mixture of moist peat and sand, and then refrigerate for about 21 days. After stratification, sow the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them in a cool, well-lit place. Germination can take 1-2 months. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them to individual pots and let them grow for at least one more year before planting them in the garden.

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 tree’s heartwood.
  • Needle Cast: This fungal disease 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 fungal disease 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: Despite its grandeur, Noble Fir is slow-growing, taking 20-30 years to reach a height suitable for a Christmas tree. It has a lifespan of up to 300 years.

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 6
Heat Zones 5 - 6
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Abies
Common names Noble Fir, Fir
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 80' - 200'
(24.4m - 61m)
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, Pacific Northwest, California, Oregon, Washington
Attracts Birds
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir)
Abies concolor (White Fir)
Abies lasiocarpa (Subalpine Fir)
Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir)
Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir)
Abies grandis (Grand Fir)

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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.
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Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 6
Heat Zones 5 - 6
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Abies
Common names Noble Fir, Fir
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 80' - 200'
(24.4m - 61m)
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, Pacific Northwest, California, Oregon, Washington
Attracts Birds
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Do I Need?
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Abies (Fir)
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