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White fir

Close up of white fir branches.

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.

Botanical name:

Abies concolor

All common names:

white fir, concolor fir, Colorado fir

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet),
  • medium tree (25-40 feet)

Mature Height:

30-50 feet

Mature Width:

15-20 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Sandy soil


  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Browsers,
  • Game birds,
  • Nesting birds,
  • Small mammals

More Information:

White fir (Abies concolor)
White fir (Abies concolor)
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

Blue Cloak white fir: (Abies concolor 'Blue Cloak'):  This cultivar has powder-blue needles that hang down.

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.

Location of Abies concolor (White fir) at the Arboretum