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~ The White Fir, Abies concolor ~

The White Fir is a large, native, coniferous tree deserving of being more widely planted. Superficially, it resembles the Colorado Blue Spruce, but upon closer inspection reveals softer, longer, almost fern-like needles that gracefully point upward from dark orance twigs. The two-tone effect created by the light-colored new needles in the foreground and the darker needles within the tree is also more pronounced. As for the Colorado Blue Spruce, varieties are available in different shades of blue or sea green. The tones of the white fir tend to be warmer and more saturated. Crushed needles have a lovely citrus smell.

The trees bear beautiful, yellow-green to purple oblong cones, 6-12 cm long and borne erect on uppermost branches, beginning at 40 years of age. Seed require cold, moist stratification to germinate and can be stored for up to 6 years. Seedlings grow best in mineral, rather than organic soil, as this appears to stimulate micorrhizal association. The young trees are sensitive to soil drying and heating, and therefore benefit from some shading. Once established, the White Fir grows best in full sun. No pruning is necessary.

Abies concolor is reliably hardy to zone 3 and prefers well-drained locations. Several cultivars are known to exist, but few are widely available:

'Albospica' - New growth near-white.
'Archer's Dwarf' - Miniature globose form, conical with age.
'Aurea' - Spring flush golden-yellow, becoming silvery in the summer.
'Big Shot #14' - New, upright, compact variety. Name provisional.
'Birthday Broom' - Very miniature, flat-topped globose.
'Blue Cloak' - Downward branches arise from strong upright leader.
'Blue Spreader' - Light blue, spreading habit.
'Brevifolia' - Needles shorter than species.
'Candicans' syn. 'Argentea' - Intense whitish blue.
'Compacta' - Dwarf, irregular habit with stiff needles, bluer than 'Globosa'.
'Conica' - Less blue and needles less curved than 'Compacta'.
'Fagerhult' - Pedulous, will cascade down when planted on a slope, long needles.
'Falcata' - Sickle-shaped needles.
'Fastigiata' - Columnar habit with short branches.
'Dwarf Globe' - Dwarf with densely-packed needles and globular growth habit.
'Gable's Weeping' - Slow-grower, semi-pendulous, irregular weeping habit useful as focal point.
'Glenmore' - Long-needled, somewhat more compact than the species, nice light blue.
'Globosa' - Globose with hort branches.
'Green Globe' - A globose white fir with a greener color.
'Husky Pup' - Mounded habit becoming more conical with age, greyish-green.
'Igel' - Extremely dwarf ans slow-growing variety.
'Mike Stearn' - Light blue, globose habit.
'Mora' - Originating from a witches' broom. Extremely dwarf, very blue.
'Pendula' - Pendulous, narrow habit.
'Pigglemee' - Flat, spreading, light blue globe with curved needles.
'Recurva' - Enhanced needle curvature, glaucous blue.
'Schrammii' - Curiously, the needles tend to grow in a "V" around the twig.
'Scooter' - Dwarf with dense growth habit, gren needles.
'Swifts Silver' - Reputed to be of a rich silver color.
'Violacea' - Pale silver/white needles.
'Wattezii' - New growth light yellow, turning to cream.
'Wintergold' - Needles take on a golden tinge in the cold of winter. Moderately vigorous.

Click to enlarge

White Fir Links


Sheffield's - Seed supply.
Porterhowse - Abies concolor 'Wattezii' photograph of prostrate form.
Esveld - Abies concolor 'Compacta' photograph of dwarf form
Esveld - Abies concolor 'Winter Gold' photograph of yellow-needled cultivar.
Esveld - Abies concolor 'Archer's Dwarf' photograph of miniature form.
Hort.net 'Compacta' - Abies concolor 'Compacta' photograph of dwarf form

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