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White Fir


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Abies concolor
FAMILY: Pinaceae

This tree in Colorado White fir is one of the most picturesque evergreens native to Colorado. Its natural range is limited to the southern half of the state, however, it is common to find it planted in urban areas around the state. Its physical featurs of light colored bark, symetrical branches, upturned needles, and conical shape make it a perfect looking evergreen tree. Sometimes it is confused with blue spruce.

Hardiness Zones 3 to 7.

Growth rate Medium to fast. Their first few years are rather tough and slow. After they are established, growth rate can reach 1′ to 2′ a year. Like spruces, firs grow well in shaded areas. If pruned properly, these trees make excellent Christmas or Holiday trees.

Leaves and needles The needles of the white fir are flat with blunt tips. They are very soft to the touch. White fir needles curve upward adding to its nice features. They are 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ long, much longer that the sub-alpine fir, which is often mistaken as a white fir. Needles are usually a silver green.

Cones Significant. Ornate. Hangs down. About 3″ in length. Three-pointed seed bracts extend beyond cones scales giving the cone a distinctive look.

Bark Thin; smooth; grey; often wrinkled and resinous.

Insects and diseases Recently there has been an abundance of insects attacking the native stands of Douglas fir. Spruce budworm, Tussock moth, and Douglas-fir beetle.

Best advice Grow as an accent tree. Give it plenty of room. Do not plant within 10 feet of any structure or walk area. Provide well-drained soil that is not too high in pH.

Information sources
Michael Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (University of Georgia, 1990)
Michael Kuhns, Trees of Utah and the Intermountain West (Utah State University Press, 1998)