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Abies amabilis

Abies amabilis - Pacific silver fir, White fir, Red fir, California red fir, Lovely fir, Amabilis fir, Cascades fir
  • Abies amabilis - Pacific silver fir, White fir, Red fir, California red fir, Lovely fir, Amabilis fir, Cascades fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies amabilis forest - Click to enlarge
  • Abies amabilis trees - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies amabilis   D. Douglas ex Jas. Forbes  1839

Synonyms: Abies grandis Hook., Abies grandis var. densifolia Engelm., Picea amabilis Douglas ex Loudon, Pinus amabilis (Douglas ex Loudon) Parl.

Common names: Pacific silver fir, White fir, Red fir, California red fir, Lovely fir, Amabilis fir, Cascades fir



Tree to 75(-82) m tall, with trunk to 2.5 m in diameter. Bark silvery gray, finally breaking up somewhat with age. Branchlets with light brown hairs, not grooved. Buds 3-4(-5) mm long, resinous at the tips or overall. Needles arranged to the sides on lower branches and also angled forward above and covering the twigs on upper branches, (0.7­)1.5-2.5(-3) cm long, bright green above, the tips notched on lower branches, pointed on upper ones. Individual needles plump in cross section and with a resin canal on either side near the edge just inside the lower epidermis, without stomates above and with five or six rows of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 10-15 mm long, bright red. Seed cones roughly barrel-shaped, 8-10(-15) cm long, 3.5-5(-6.5) cm across, purple (or green) when young, maturing purplish brown. Bracts much shorter than the seed scales and hidden by them. Persistent cone axis narrowly conical. Seed body 10-12 mm long, the wing up to 1.5 times as long. Cotyledons four to seven.

Pacific Coast of North America from southeasternmost Alaska, through British Columbia, to northeasternmost California. Forming pure stands or more commonly mixed with one or more of a dozen other conifers on slopes in the coastal and montane mixed conifer forests; 0-1,850 m.  The climate is extremely wet maritime, with 1,500 to 4,000 mm annual precipitation, much of it as snow.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Abies amabilis has a very large extent of occurrence and occurs as many millions of mature individuals, despite historical reduction due to unsustainable logging in the past. It regenerates well after disturbance, including clear-felling and on other sites, e.g. after retreating glaciers. Fires and pathogens are a threat but their effect is mostly local. Therefore this species is assessed as Least Concern.

It is a constituent of the mixed coniferous forests with among other conifer tree species Tsuga heterophylla, Picea sitchensis, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Thuja plicata, Cupressus nootkatensis, Abies grandis, Abies magnifica; and with Abies lasiocarpa and Tsuga mertensiana at higher elevations, but unlike the latter two not reaching the tree line.

Historically, this species of fir was logged beyond sustainability levels, which has undoubtedly led to a decline in the area of occupancy especially where clear-felling has led to changes in land use or forest management not favouring regeneration of this species. It is difficult to quantify this loss, but it is unlikely to be substantial enough to place the species in a threatened category. Abies amabilis is sensitive to forest fires and easily killed by fire, as well as by wind throw during storms. An introduced insect (Adelges piceae) is known to have had devastating effects in parts of British Columbia and Washington, but some trees have shown resistance to it.

In the timber industry no distinction is made between this species and Western hemlock as both conifers have similar wood properties. This wood is in use for various construction applications such as plywood, veneer, sub-flooring and sheathing. It contains little or no resin and is light in colour and easily worked. Together with Western hemlock, substantial quantities of wood go to the kraft pulp industry. As an ornamental tree it is uncommon, performing only in cool and wet maritime climate such as prevails in the west of Scotland.

This species occurs within numerous protected areas throughout its range, where it is protected from logging, but very large stands remain outside these parks and wilderness preserves and can be logged.



Abies amabilis ’Compacta’
Abies amabilis ’Fastigiata’
Abies amabilis ’Glauca’
Abies amabilis ’Hoyt HB’
Abies amabilis ’Indian Heaven’   
Abies amabilis ’Silver and Gold’
Abies amabilis ’Spreading Star’



  • 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.

Product CodeABIBG0LL28
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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