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Abies procera

Abies procera - Noble fir, Red fir, White fir
  • Abies procera - Noble fir, Red fir, White fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies procera leaves - Click to enlarge
  • Abies procera trees - Click to enlarge


Scientific name: Abies procera  Rehder  1940

Synonyms: Abies nobilis (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindl., Picea nobilis (Douglas ex D.Don) Loudon, Pinus nobilis Douglas ex D.Don, Pseudotsuga nobilis (Douglas ex D.Don) W.R.McNab

Common names: Noble fir, Red fir, White fir



Tree to 70(-85) m tall, with trunk to 2.5(-3) m in diameter. Bark dark gray, soon becoming reddish gray, soon becoming reddish gray, narrowly ridged and furrowed. Branchlets finely hairy, shallowly grooved between the leaf bases. Buds 2.5-3.5 mm, not resinous, hairy on the basal scales, hidden among leaves. Needles all pointing upward on the twig from an abruptly bent leaf base, (1-)2-3(-3.5) cm long, bluish green with wax above before becoming dull dark green, the tips notched to rounded, occasionally pointed. Individual needles flat to slightly plump in cross section and with a resin canal on either side just inside the lower epidermis somewhere from the midpoint to near the edge, with (or without) up to 14 rows of stomates in the groove above, sometimes divided between two stomatal bands, and (four to) six seven rows in each stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 15-25 mm long, reddish purple. Seed cones barrel-shaped, 10-15(-30) cm long, 5-6.5(-8) cm across, green or reddish purple when young, maturing light brown. Bracts yellow-green, longer than the seed scales and bent back over to cover them. Seed body 12-13 mm long, the wing a little longer. Cotyledons mostly five or six.

Noble fir is the largest American fir, explaining its common and scientific names (“tall”).

Cascade and Coast Ranges of Washington, Oregon, and northwestern California. Forming pure stands or, more commonly, mixed with almost any conifers of the region;(60-)900-2,200(-2,700) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

This species, while affected by past logging with an unknown reduction in its original (pre-European settlement) area of occupancy, still occupies vast areas where many stands are nearly pure, especially in managed forest areas, with good regeneration after logging. In other areas it is strictly protected, as in the national parks of the region. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern.

This species grows from the foothills of mountains in W Washington to high mountain sides in Oregon, between 60 m and 2,700 m a.s.l. It is most abundant in the mountains of the Cascade Range, on a variety of mountain soils with ample moisture available to the vegetation. The climate is cool temperate, with short summers and snowy winters, the annual precipitation ranging from 1,750 mm to 2,600 mm, much of it as snow. It mainly grows in the Canadian Life Zone, but also in the lower Transition Zone, where it can be associated with several other conifers, e.g. Tsuga heterophylla, Picea sitchensis and Thuja plicata near the coast, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Abies grandis, Pinus spp. in much of its range, and Abies lasiocarpa, Abies amabilis, Tsuga mertensiana, Picea engelmannii, Larix occidentalis at higher elevations. Common shrubs are Rhododendron spp., Vaccinium spp. and Ribes spp. Abies procera can be dominant, but occurs rarely in pure stands.

Historically logging of this valuable fir has undoubtedly had a negative effect on the area of occupancy where logged stands were subsequently replaced with other trees or other forms of land use. Quantifying this loss over 150 years or three generations is very difficult. The decline has now virtually ceased.

Noble fir attains large dimensions and grows an extremely straight bole under favourable site conditions. Almost pure natural stands can yield large volumes of timber per ha. Its wood is of higher quality than that of other firs in North America due to greater strength and indeed its size. Besides general construction and carpentry applications, special uses have been propellers of aeroplanes and ladders, now mostly replaced by various metals. The odourless, white wood is excellent for making boxes. Young trees make attractive Christmas trees with their dense, upturned glaucous leaves. In amenity planting and horticulture this fir is one of the more popular and commonly used species and several cultivars are known. It was introduced to England by David Douglas in 1830. It has the largest seed cones of all species, with attractive, exserted yellowish bracts. It is unsuitable in climates with summer droughts or less than a good supply of rain spread evenly in the year as its bark tends to split open during dry spells.

This species occurs within a number of protected areas throughout its range, including several national parks where any logging is banned.



Abies procera ’Argentea’
Abies procera ’Argentea Nellemann’
Abies procera ’Aurea’
Abies procera ’Balatka’
Abies procera ’Bizarro’
Abies procera ’Blaue Hexe’
Abies procera ’Blue Heaven’
Abies procera ’Blue Spiral’
Abies procera ’Blue Spire’
Abies procera ’Blue Wonder’
Abies procera ’Bump’s Broom’ 
Abies procera ’Compacta’
Abies procera ’Danish Column’
Abies procera ’David’s Columnaris’
Abies procera ’Delbar Cascade’
Abies procera ’Fastigiata’
Abies procera ’Franken’
Abies procera ’Frijsenborg’
Abies procera ’Glauca’
Abies procera ’Glauca Nana’
Abies procera ’Glauca Prostrata’
Abies procera ’Golden Needles’
Abies procera ’HB Siskiyou’
Abies procera ’Henk’s Garden’
Abies procera ’Hexenbesen’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Blue’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Christmas Tree’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Compact’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Dwarf’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Prostrate’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Single Snake’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Special’
Abies procera ’Hupp’s Weeping’
Abies procera ’Jeddeloh’
Abies procera ’Johnson’
Abies procera ’La Graciosa’
Abies procera ’Masonic Broom’
Abies procera ’Mount Hood’
Abies procera ’Mount Seattle’
Abies procera ’Mt. Sii’
Abies procera ’Nana’
Abies procera ’Nobel’
Abies procera ’Noble’s Dwarf’
Abies procera ’Obrighofen’
Abies procera ’Pendula’
Abies procera ’Pospíšil’
Abies procera ’Procumbens’
Abies procera ’Procumbens Nana’
Abies procera ’Prostrata’
Abies procera ’Rat’
Abies procera ’Rat Tail’  
Abies procera ’Rick’s Foxtail’
Abies procera ’Robenek’
Abies procera ’Robusta’
Abies procera ’Rogui Benspeter’
Abies procera ’Seattle Mountain’
Abies procera ’Seestern’
Abies procera ’Sherwoodii’
Abies procera ’Silver’ 
Abies procera ’Stanley’s Select’
Abies procera ’Tolines Farm ’WB Top’
Abies procera ’Windsor’
Abies procera ’Yellow Needle’



  • Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
  • Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland

Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

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