Noble fir, known for its beautiful symmetrical appearance, is a tall conifer species found in the Pacific coastal ranges of North America at an altitude of 910-1,680 m (3,000-5,500 ft). It has long and pointy leaves that turn upward, revealing the branches below. When young, the tree has smooth, gray bark with resin blisters; but at maturity, it becomes reddish-brown, with a rough, fissured texture.
|Scientific Name||Abies procera|
|Other Names||Red Fir, Christmas tree|
|Closely related to||Abies magnifica (California red fir), Abies magnifica var. shastensis (Shasta fir)|
|Size||Large trees that stand at a height of 40-70 meters (130-230 feet), occasionally reaching up to 90 meters (295 feet); straight trunk with an average diameter of 2 meters (6.5 feet)|
|Leaves (Needles)||Flattened, linear, 1-3.5 cm long, blue-green color on all surfaces, strong stomatal bands, curved base; tips are rounded but pointy on the branches bearing cone; spiral arrangement but upswept above the shoot|
|Cones (Strobili)||Erect, 4.3-8.7 inches long; the male cones are purple or reddish, borne below the leaves; the female cones are borne at the top of the crown and have purple scales hidden by the yellowish-green bract scales|
|Branches||Diverge from the bark at right angles, stiff and reddish brown boughs; there is some spacing between the branches of a noble fir, giving the tree a less dense appearance than Douglas fir (another popular species of Christmas tree)|
|Shape||Young trees have a conical crown while matured noble firs have a short, rounded apex|
|Distribution/Range||Foothills of mountains as well as high mountain sides of Cascade and Coast Range of northwest California, western Washington, and Oregon in the US; Canadian Life Zone and lower Transition Zone of Canada|
|Lifespan||250-300 years in average, while few may survive for more than 400 years|
|Growth Rate||Slow to medium; average annual increase in height is 12-24 inches|
|Growing Conditions||Humidity: Low; development of cones as well as shedding of pollen is sensitive to changes in humidity
Temperature: Grows well in cold climates with snowy winters. Can grow in regions with short summers.
Rain: Annual precipitation between 1,750mm and 2,600mm
Sunlight: Partial shade and exposure to direct sunlight
Soil Requirements: Cool, moist, deep, well-drained, and acidic soil; also found on thin and rocky soils with sufficient moisture
|Diseases and Pests||Phytophthora root rot, stem canker, interior needle blight, CSNN (current season needle necrosis) are the common diseases affecting noble fir; branch distortion and needle discoloration are caused by spruce spider mite, balsam wooly adelgid, and balsam twig aphid|
|Flowering/Fruiting||Buds burst during early May to early June; pollen cone shedding occurs in June-July; seed dispersal starts during late September-early October|
|Seed production||Cones are borne at twenty years of age, but commercial seed bearing starts at 50 years|
|Seedling development||Germination takes place in the growing season following seed dispersal; initial development is slow, and it takes 3-5 years to attain a height of 1 ft|
|Wildlife Value||Birds such as jays, nuthatches, and chickadees, as well as rodents including mice and Douglas squirrels, feed on the noble fir seeds; black bears eat the sapwood by stripping the bark; it provides forest cover and protects the wildlife from cold|
|Cultivars||A. procera cv. ‘Glauca,’ A. procera cv. ‘Prostrata,’ and A. procera cv. ‘Robustifolia’|
|Uses||Makes a great Christmas tree since it is attractive and highly keepable; used for making garland, wreaths, and door swags; being lightweight and moderately strong, it is used as plywood, pulpwood, and construction lumber|
|Identification of wood||The noble fir wood has uniform straight grain with the springwood or earlywood being creamy white or lightbrown and the summerwood or latewood being slightly lavender or reddish brown|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
- The artificial crossing of noble fir with several other fir species, including California red fir, has yielded viable seeds.
- It is believed that the de Havilland Mosquito bombers, which served during Second World War, were constructed with noble fir wood.