Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Abies concolor


Balsam fir, Colorado fir, Concolor fir, Oyamel de California, Silver fir, White balsam, White fir


Pinaceae (Pine Family)



Abies concolor (Balsam fir)
Flaigg, Norman G.
Symetrically conical in youth, this evergreen becomes more irregular and rounded with age. It grows to a height of 50-150 ft. Lower branches extend to ground when open-grown but when crowded, half or more of the trunk is bare. Needles are silvery blue-green and 2-3 in. long the longest of any fir. White fir derives its name from its silvery-white bark. Very large fir, widespread in western mountains, with narrow, pointed crown of short, symmetrical, horizontal branches; 2 geographic varieties.

Rocky Mountain White Fir (var. concolor), of the Rocky Mountain region, grows in the warmest and driest climate of all native firs. California White Fir (var. lowiana (Gord.) Lemm.), the Pacific Coast variety, is grown for ornament, shade, and Christmas trees. The scientific name, meaning of uniform color, refers to both needle surfaces.

Image Gallery:

3 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Size Notes: Height 60-100 feet, spread 40-60 feet.
Leaf: Yellowish-green to bluish-green in young trees turning whitish with age.
Flower:
Fruit: Cones purplish, olive-green or dark yellowish-green. Cylindrical, 2 to 5 1/2 inches long.
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun

Distribution

USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , ME , MA , NV , NM , OR , UT , WY
Native Distribution: S.w. ID & s.e. OR, w. to mts. of c. CO, & s. to s. CA, AZ & NM
Native Habitat: Arid mt. areas; dry slopes; rocky places

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, gravelly or sandy-loam soils.
Conditions Comments: Western white fir transplants readily and is drought- & cold- tolerant. It will adapt to most soils, except heavy clay. Under good conditions, 1 to 1 1/2 ft. of growth can be expected per season, but this is generally a very slow-growing tree. It tolerates light shade and has no serious disease and insect problems. This species benefits from the protection of a mother plant the first 10 years.

Benefit

Use Wildlife: The winged seeds of this and other firs are eaten by songbirds and various mammals, especially squirrels and chipmunks. Deer and grouse feed on the foliage; porcupines gnaw the bark.
Use Other: Wood used for paper pulp and general lumber for building construction.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2007-01-01