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Subalpine Fir
Abies lasiocarpa
About Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) Nurseries Show All Photos The Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) is a species in the Pinaceae (Pine) family native to the mountains of the western U.S. In California it is restricted to the far northern part of the state in the Trinity Alps. It occurs at high altitudes, from 1,880 to 2,270 meters, and it is commonly found immediately below the tree line. It is a medium-sized tree growing to 20 meters tall, exceptionally to 40-50 meters tall, with a trunk up to 1 meter diameter, and a very narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth, gray, and with resin blisters, becoming rough and fissured or scaly on old trees. The leaves are flat needle-like, 1.5-3 centimeter long and waky green above, and blue-white stomatal bands below. The fresh leaf scars are reddish. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but with the leaf bases twisted to be arranged to the sides of and above the shoot, with few or none below the shoot. The cones are erect, 6-12 centimeter long, dark blackish-purple with fine yellow-brown pubescence, ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in early fall. This is a tree of the high mountains that is rarely seen in gardens.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
15 - 98 ft (4.6 - 29.9 m)


Growth Rate


Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
6023' - 7656'

Annual Precip. ?
47.8" - 90.4"

Summer Precip. ?
2.16" - 3.72"

Coldest Month ?
32.1° F - 36.6° F

Hottest Month ?
49.4° F - 54.8° F

Humidity ?
2.35 vpd - 11.19 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers rich, forest soil with well-decomposed organic component derived from decaying wood. For garden purposes add redwood compost to soil mix.


Wildlife Attracted
Species in the Pinaceae family are host plants to the Pine White butterfly

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Never or Almost Never Used

Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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