The white fir is a hardy and ornamental North American native evergreen. Its attractive, blue-green needles curve outward and upward on branches and, when crushed, emit a lemon scent. This choice plant tolerates a wide range of conditions, including drought, heat, and cold temperatures.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Sandy soil
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Nesting birds,
- Small mammals
photo: John Hagstrom
Tree & Plant Care
Do not plant in heavy clay soil.
Fir trees need very little pruning, but if pruning is needed do it in spring.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious problems.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of heat as well as cold temperatures.
Native geographic location and habitat
Found in mountainous areas in the southwestern United States.
Bark color and texture
Bark is gray.
On young trees the bark is relatively smooth; older trees are irregularly furrowed into broad flat ridges.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color
Evergreen needles are flat and attached singly to the stems. They are 2 inches long and curve outward and upward on branches.
Color is blue-green.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers are inconspicuous.
Male pollen cones are red to red-purple; female flower cones are rose red and found in the upper portion of the tree.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Cones are erect and cylindrical; 4 to 5 inches long.
Color is pale green turning purplish as they mature.
Cultivars and their differences
Candicans white fir (Abies concolor 'Candicans'): A cultivar with intensely silver-blue needles.
Glenmore white fir: (Abies concolor 'Glenmore'): A more compact tree (30 feet high) with longer, blue-gray needles.
Wintergold white fir: (Abies concolor 'Wintergold'): Needles are yellow in winter and spring, turning dark green in summer.