Abies magnifica, known as red fir, California red fir, or Shasta red fir, is a large, evergreen, coniferous tree in the Pinaceae (pine) family native to the Northwestern U.S. One of the two largest species of firs in North America, it typically reaches heights of 46–55 meters (150–180 feet), and can be as tall as 70 meters, with usual diameters of 1.25–1.75 meters, but as large as 3 meters.
Red fir dominates large areas of high country that are a major source of water, especially in California. For this reason it has long been an important forest tree. Only recently has red fir assumed significance as a productive source of general, all-purpose construction-grade wood used extensively as solid framing material and plywood; it also has some use as pulpwood in paper manufacturing. High-quality young red fir, known as "silvertip fir" from the waxy sheen on their dense, dark-green needles, bring top prices as Christmas trees. These trees are cultured in natural stands and plantations where early growth is slower than most species used as Christmas trees, and some individuals are cultured for as long as 11 years before harvest.
Red fir grows in California and southern Oregon, where it is limited to high elevations. Its range extends from the central and southern Cascade Mountains of Oregon southward to Lake County in the Coast Ranges of northwest California and Kern County in the southern Sierra Nevada. Red fir is found outside these states only along the western border of Nevada, a few kilometers east of Mount Rose in Washoe County. North of Mount Lassen in northern California, red fir shows morphological and ecological characteristics that have led to its common designation as a variety or subspecies, Shasta red fir (A. magnifica var. shastensis), in some references.
Detailed and exact wildlife censuses for large areas do not exist and any listing of species numbers associated with a major forest type is an approximation. There are, however, about 111 species of birds found in the red fir forest type of California, 55 of which are associated primarily with mature forests. Perhaps because of the dense nature of most true fir forests, there are only about 52 species of mammals commonly present and only 6 of those are generally associated with mature forests.
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