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Balsam Fir
Abies magnifica

About Balsam Fir (Abies magnifica) The Red Fir or Silvertip fir (Abies magnifica) is a western North American fir, native to the mountains of southwest Oregon and California in the United States. It is a large evergreen tree typically up to 40-60 meter tall and 2 meter trunk diameter, rarely to 76 meter tall and 3 meter diameter, with a narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth, grey, and with resin blisters, becoming orange-red, rough and fissured on old trees. The leaves are needle-like, 2-3.5 centimeter long, waxy pale blue-green above and below with strong bands, and an acute tip. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but twisted slightly s-shaped to be upcurved above the shoot. The cones are erect, 9-21 centimeter long, yellow-green (occasionally purple), ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in fall.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
35 - 220 ft (10.7 - 67.1 m)

Upright, Pyramidal

Growth Rate


Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
56' - 14092'

Annual Precip. ?
12.5" - 154.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 5.92"

Coldest Month ?
10.8° F - 52.0° F

Hottest Month ?
34.1° F - 79.3° F

Humidity ?
0.30 vpd - 25.47 vpd

Soil Description
Grows best on the deeper soils associated with glacial deposits and good surface mulch


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to - degrees F

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 1-2 mos. stratification. Abies seed storage life is less than one year unless kept refrigerated.

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
California Red Fir, Golden Fir, Shasta Fir, Shasta Red Fir, Silvertip Fir

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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