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Abies magnifica (California red fir)
Cressler, Alan

Abies magnifica

Abies magnifica A. Murray bis

California Red Fir, Red Fir

Pinaceae (Pine Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A tall fir with short, horizontal branches. The older bark is deeply fissured and dark red. When young, the evergreen foliage has a whitish coating. It later becomes blue-green. Large, handsome fir with an open conical crown rounded at tip and short, nearly horizontal branches. Named for its characteristic bark, this magnificent conifer forms almost pure forests at high altitudes along the western slopes of Sierra Nevada. It is common in Yosemite National Park.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: From 60 to 200 feet tall. Trunk 2-1/2 to 4 feet in diameter.
Leaf: Bluish-green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Green , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Male cones reddish-purple, female cones pale green.


USA: CA , NV , NY , OR
Native Distribution: S.w. OR, s. through mts. to c. CA & w. NV
Native Habitat: Dry slopes & ridges; 5000-9000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Trunks are brittle and windfalls are frequent.


Use Ornamental: Used for Christmas trees.
Use Other: Early mountaineers prepared their beds by cutting and overlapping 2 rows of the plushy, aromatic boughs.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Abies spp. are best propagated by means of seeds sown in early spring. In nature, Abies seeds often germinate on melting snow fields.
Seed Collection: Cone scales bear two seeds at the base. Mature seed has a large wing and is ovoid to oblong. Seeds can be damaged easily. Seeds store best in a dry, cool environment.
Seed Treatment: Straification for 3 months at 30 degrees improves germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

USDA: Find Abies magnifica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Abies magnifica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Abies magnifica


Record Modified: 2022-09-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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