Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Abies procera (Noble Fir, Red Fir, White Fir)



Plantae – Plants


Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


Spermatophyta – Seed plants


Coniferophyta – Conifers






Pinaceae – Pine family


Abies Mill. – fir


Abies procera Rehder – noble fir

Noble Fir (Abies procera) is one of our most popular northwest native trees.

This evergreen conifer is tall and very symmetrical with firm, short needles. It prefers sun and good drainage. In the woods, you'll find this 'noble' native in middle-elevation areas which are more open than the lower elevations with less underbrush. It also makes a fine patio or porch plant and will thrive for many years in a large pot. Decorated for the holidays--a living tree of great beauty.

Pojar and Mackinnon, in their book Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, say this of Abies procera:

"Magnificent stands of noble fir can occur ... in the Cascades. On one site near Mt. St. Helens, an even-aged, 200-year-old forest had over 2,000 tonnes biomass/ha, or almost 10 times the living plant matter of a mature deciduous forest in eastern North America or 2/3 that of the largest redwood forests."

They also note of this tree that "lumber is sometimes marketed as 'Oregon Larch.' The Larch Mountains in the Cascades were so-called because they were covered with towering stands of noble fir. The R.A.F. Mosquito planes of World War II were built with noble fir frames."

And finally they quote David Douglas in 1830 after collecting in the southern Cascades:

"I spent three weeks in a forest composed of this tree, and day by day could not cease to admire it."

"Among the many interesting species by which it is surrounded in its native woods, in point of elegance justly claims the pre-eminence." This last is from David Douglas' 1929 notes.

This pedigree is testament to the beautiful and distinctive Northwest Noble Fir.

This highly ornamental, hardy (USDA zones 5 - 10) evergreen tree is native to the Pacific northwest and is common at high, west side elevations.

At full maturity, it can reach 200,' its straight, massive trunks remaining clear of branches to 100.'

The 7" cones are a highly visible, deep purplish brown and stand erect above the sprays of blue-green needles. They disintegrate on the tree, leaving behind a core, rather than falling as whole cones to the ground. It is this characteristic that distinguishes the Abies genus (the "true firs") from other conifers.

This species likes sun and good drainage and dislikes alkaline soils and high winds.

It is easily transplanted but will be content to grace your verandah for many years as a potted plant.

Photo at right by mamausings.

For a short comparison of northwest native firs, click here.

Above right: That's Wally Hansen holding a bundle of bare root Noble Firs. He posed for this photo several years ago just before his annual Bare Root sale started.


Photo above, right, by Kyloe Woods of Northumberland, UK.


Photo credit: Kyloe Woods, Northumberland UK, July 2005

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