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Noble fir
Abies procera Rogów 1.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Genus:
Abies
Species:
procera
Abies procera range map 4.png
Natural range
Synonyms
  • Abies nobilis (Douglas ex D.Don) Lindl. nom. illeg.
  • Picea nobilis (Douglas ex D.Don) Loudon
  • Pseudotsuga nobilis (Douglas ex D.Don) W.R.McNab

Abies procera, the noble fir, also called red fir and Christmas tree, is a western North American fir, native to the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of extreme northwest California and western Oregon and Washington in the United States. It is a high-altitude tree, typically occurring at 300–1,500 m (980–4,920 ft) altitude, only rarely reaching the tree line.

Description

A. procera is a large evergreen tree up to 70 m (130–230 ft) tall and 2 m (6.5 ft) in trunk diameter, rarely to 90 m (295 ft) tall and 2.7 m (8.9 ft) in diameter, with a narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth and gray with resin blisters, becoming red-brown, rough and fissured on old trees. The leaves are needle-like, 1–3.5 cm long, glaucous blue-green above and below with strong stomal bands, and a blunt to notched tip. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but twisted slightly S-shaped to be upcurved above the shoot. The cones are erect, 11–22 cm (4.3–8.7 in) long, with the purple scales almost completely hidden by the long exserted yellow-green bract scales; ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in fall.

The specific epithet procera means "tall".

A. procera is very closely related to red fir (A. magnifica), which replaces it farther southeast in southernmost Oregon and California, being best distinguished by the leaves having a groove along the midrib on the upper side; red fir does not show this. Red fir also tends to have the leaves less closely packed, with the shoot bark visible between the leaves, whereas the shoot is largely hidden in noble fir. Red fir cones also mostly have shorter bracts, except in A. magnifica var. shastensis; this variety is considered by some botanists to be a hybrid between noble fir and red fir.

Uses

Noble fir is a popular Christmas tree.

The wood is used for general structural purposes and paper manufacture.

The prostrate grey cultivar A. procera (Glauca Group) ‘Glauca Prostrata’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

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