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Abies magnifica

Abies magnifica - California red fir, Silvertip fir, Red fir
  • Abies magnifica - California red fir, Silvertip fir, Red fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies magnifica cones - Click to enlarge
  • Abies magnifica leaves - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies magnifica  A. Murray  1863

Synonyms: Abies amabilis var. magnifica (A.Murray bis) Lavallée, Abies campylocarpa A.Murray bis, Abies magnifica var. argentea Beissn., Abies magnifica var. glauca Beissn., Abies magnifica var. magnifica, Abies nobilis var. magnifica (A.Murray bis) Kellogg, Picea magnifica (A.Murray bis) Gordon, Picea nobilis var. magnifica (A.Murray bis) J.Nelson, Pinus campylocarpa (A.Murray bis) Voss, Pinus magnifica (A.Murray bis) W.R.McNab, Pinus nobilis var. magnifica (A.Murray bis) Voss, Pseudotsuga magnifica (A.Murray bis) W.R.McNab

Infraspecific taxa: Abies magnifica var. shastensis  Lemmon  1890

Common names: California red fir, Silvertip fir, Red fir, Red bark fir (English), Sapin rouge (French)



Tree to 50(-60) m tall, with trunk to 2.6 m in diameter. Bark grayish when young, soon becoming reddish brown and strongly ridged and furrowed. Branchlets with dense reddish hairs at first, grooved between the leaf bases. Buds 3-5 mm long, not resinous, sparsely hairy. Needles all pointing upward on the twig from an abruptly bent leaf base, 2-3.5 cm long, bluish or grayish green above, the tips rounded on lower branches to pointed on cone-bearing branches. Individual needles flat to very plump in cross section and with a resin canal on either side near the edge just inside the lower epidermis, with 8-13 rows of stomates above and four or five rows in each waxy stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 15-20 mm long, reddish brown. Seed cones elongate egg-shaped, (10-)14-20 cm long, (3-)7-10 cm across, purple when young, maturing yellowish brown. Bracts a little shorter than the seed scales and hidden by them or (in variety shastensis) slightly longer and bent back over them without fully covering them. Seed body 12-15 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons seven or eight.

Southeastern Oregon to northern Coast Ranges and southern Sierra Nevada of California. Forming pure stands or mixed with other conifers, including White fir (Abies concolor), Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), and Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), in midelevation montane coniferous forest; 1,400-2,700(-3,000) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Abies magnifica assessed as Least Concern due to their large extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, large population sizes and absence of any overall decline.

Abies magnifica occurs in the Canadian Life Zone of high mountains, between 1,400 m and 2,700 m a.s.l. (to 3,000 m in the south of its range); commonly on soils of granitic (Sierra Nevada) or basaltic (Cascade Range) origin, which have been altered by glaciation and are usually slightly acid. The climate is characterized by short, warm and dry summers and long, cold winters with much snow. Annual precipitation varies between 750 mm and 1,500 mm (80 % as snow). This species forms pure stands in some places, but more often it is a constituent of the mixed coniferous forest type with e.g. Pinus spp., Abies concolor, Abies procera, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Calocedrus decurrens, Juniperus occidentalis, and at higher elevations Abies lasiocarpa and Tsuga mertensiana subsp. grandicona. Common shrubs are e.g. Ceanothus cordulatus, Chrysolepis sempervirens and Arctostaphylos nevadensis.

Historically, logging has affected this species, leading to an unknown reduction in area of occupancy in cases where the natural forest was replaced by other forms of land use, including managed or planted forest favouring other conifer species.  More recently, forests are either protected from logging or are better managed, allowing regeneration of this species in many areas.

California red fir grows to large dimensions with extremely straight boles and has a high wood production per ha even in natural, unmanaged stands. It is therefore increasingly valuable as a timber tree used for general construction and plywood. This species is also valued as a Christmas tree, both grown in natural stands and in plantations. It is relatively rare in amenity plantings with few cultivars known; most existing planted trees date from the heydays of landscape conifer plantings in the nineteenth century.

This species is present in a number of protected areas, including famous national parks, scattered throughout its natural range.



Abies magnifica ’Argentea’    
Abies magnifica ’Dáblice’
Abies magnifica ’Glauca’   
Abies magnifica ’Glauca Pendula’
Abies magnifica ’Glauca Prostrata’  
Abies magnifica ’Hexenbesen Horstmann’
Abies magnifica ’Macrocarpa’
Abies magnifica ’Mt. Si’
Abies magnifica ’Nana’  
Abies magnifica ’Prostrata’   
Abies magnifica ’Shastensis Blue’
Abies magnifica ’Wispy’   



  • 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 CodeABIRMEPW85
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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