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White FirAbies concolor

  • White Fir - Abies concolor
  • White Fir - Abies concolor
  • White Fir - Abies concolor

Long ago, naturalist Donald Peattie recognized the beauty and adaptability of the white fir and accurately predicted that its future “lies in its value as an ornamental.” Its shape, color and ability to thrive on harsh sites has made the tree a favorite for urban landscaping. It has also become a major component of the Christmas tree industry.

Hardiness Zones

The white fir can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–7. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The white fir grows to a height of 30–50' and a spread of about 20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow to Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12" to 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The white fir grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy and well-drained soils. It prefers normal moisture but has moderate drought tolerance.


This tree:
  • Is a popular Christmas tree choice.
  • Features needles that are bluish or silvery-green and roughly 1½–3" in length. They extend from all sides of the twig and curve upward.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape.
  • Yields oblong cones 3–6" in length that start out olive green, turning purplish and then brown at maturity. The cones are held upright on the branches and disintegrate while on the tree.
  • Can do a reasonably good job as a windbreak tree.
  • Tolerates heat and winter cold.

Wildlife Value

Grouse like to eat the buds and needles and find white fir a good roosting tree. The seeds are eaten by squirrels, rodents, chickadees, crossbills and Clark's nutcrackers. Deer browse on seedlings, buds and needles, and porcupines gnaw on the bark.


White fir is one of the 40 members of its genus worldwide—nine in North America. Its common name is descriptive of the foliage, whereas its scientific name is not too helpful. Abies is simply the ancient Latin word for fir trees, and concolor means "together, or of one color." This wild mountain resident has no outstanding credits to its name in the lumber business. Long ago, naturalist Donald Peattie predicted the real glory of this species. "Rather does the future of this tree lie in its value as an ornamental," he wrote in 1953. Today it is a favorite for urban landscaping.