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Overview

Brief Summary

Pinaceae -- Pine family

    Jerry F. Franklin

    Noble fir (Abies procera), also known as red fir and white fir,  is an impressive true fir limited to the Cascade Range and Coast Ranges of  the Pacific Northwest. At maturity, it typically has a clean, columnar  bole and short, rounded crown. Noble fir attains the largest dimensions of  any of the true fir species.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Abies procera, noble fir, is a large, evergreen, coniferous tree in the Pinaceae (pine) family, native to the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. Also known as red fir or white fir, it is an impressive true fir limited to the Cascade Range and Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest. Noble fir attains the largest dimensions of any of the true fir species, reaching heights of up to 85 meters (278 feet) and diameters of nearly 3 meters (9 feet). At maturity, it typically has a clean, columnar bole and short, rounded crown. (Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir, also occurs in the Pacific Northwest but is not a true fir.)

Noble fir is found in the mountains of northern Oregon and Washington between the McKenzie River and Stevens Pass or latitudes 44° and 48° N. Most of its distribution is within the Cascade Range, particularly on the western slopes and along the crest. Isolated populations are found on peaks in the Oregon Coast Ranges and in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington.

The wood of noble fir has always been valued over that of other true firs because of its greater strength. Loggers called it larch to avoid the prejudice against the wood of true fir; the two Larch Mountains opposite one another across the Columbia River near Portland, OR, were named for the noble fir that grows on their summits. Because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, it has been used for specialty products, such as stock for ladder rails and construction of airplanes.

In 1979, noble fir constituted about 12 percent of the Christmas tree production in the Pacific Northwest and was priced (wholesale) 35 to 40 percent higher than Douglas-firs. As of 2009, it was the third most popular Christmas tree species in the U.S. (AGRMC 2011). Noble fir greenery is also in considerable demand and can provide high financial returns in young stands.

Like most true firs, noble fir is an attractive tree for ornamental planting and landscaping.

(Excerpted and edited from Franklin 1990.)

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Noble fir occurs in the Cascade Range from Stevens Pass, Washington,
south to southern Oregon and the Klamath Mountains in northern Calfornia
[17,18,22,31,34]. Scattered populations occur on isolated peaks in the
northern Coast Ranges of Oregon and in the Willapa Hills of southwestern
Washington [17,18,34]. A few sources indicate that noble fir does not
occur in the Olympic Mountains [17,22]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [50].
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 31. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 34. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 50. St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p. [25354]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains

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Occurrence in North America

CA HI OR WA

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Noble fir is found in the mountains of northern Oregon and Washington  between the McKenzie River and Stevens Pass or latitudes 44° and 48°  N. Most of its distribution is within the Cascade Range, particularly on  the western slopes and along the crest. Isolated populations are found on  peaks in the Oregon Coast Ranges and in the Willapa Hills of southwestern  Washington.

    Trees with needle and cone characteristics of noble fir have frequently  been reported in mixture with California and Shasta red firs (Abies  magnifica var. magnifica and var. shastensis) from  northern California north to the central Cascade Range in Oregon. Studies  of weight of seeds, number of cotyledons, and chemistry of terpenes  strongly suggest that the populations north of the McKenzie River differ  from the remainder of the fir complex and lack the apparent latitudinal  clines in these characteristics found in the populations to the south. In  any case, the ecological behavior of the populations from central Oregon  south resembles that of California and Shasta red firs much more closely  than that of noble fir.

    The northern limits of the range of noble fir have also been a source of  confusion. Early reports placed noble fir on Mount Baker, in the Olympic  Mountains, and at other locations in the northern Cascades. Subsequent  investigators have not found noble fir at these Washington sites.

     
- The native range of noble fir.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Abies procera Rehder:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees to 80m; trunk to 2.2m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark grayish brown, in age becoming thick and deeply furrowed (furrows and ridges about same width) and reddish brown (especially reddish when plates flake off). Branches diverging from trunk at right angles, stiff; twigs reddish brown, finely pubescent for several years. Buds hidden by leaves, tan, ovoid, small, not resinous, apex rounded; basal scales short, broad, equilaterally triangular, pubescent centrally, not resinous, margins entire to crenate, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1--3(--3.5)cm ´ 1.5--2mm, 1-ranked, flexible, proximal portion often appressed to twig for 2--3mm (best seen on abaxial surface of twig), distal portion divergent; cross section flat, with prominent raised midrib abaxially, with or without groove adaxially, or cross section 4-sided on fertile branches; odor pungent, faintly turpentinelike; abaxial surface with 2--4 glaucous bands, each band with (4--)6--7 stomatal rows; adaxial surface bluish green, with 0--2 glaucous bands, each band with 0--7 stomatal rows at midleaf; apex rounded to notched; leaves on fertile branches 4-sided with 4 bands of stomates below; resin canals small, near margins and abaxial epidermal layer. Pollen cones at pollination ± purple, ± red, or reddish brown. Seed cones oblong-cylindric, 10--15 ´ 5--6.5cm, green, red, or purple, overlaid with green bracts, at maturity brown (bracts light-colored and scales dark), sessile, apex rounded; scales ca. 2.5 ´ 3cm, pubescent; bracts exserted and reflexed over scales. Seeds 12 ´ 6mm, body reddish brown; wing slightly longer than body, light brown to straw; cotyledons (4--)5--6(--7). 2 n =24.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Description

Noble fir is a native, long-lived conifer [1,17,46]. It usually lives
up to 400 years, with a maximum of 600 to 700 years [1,15,19]. Mature
noble fir can reach 230 feet (70 m) in height and 45 to 60 inches
(114-152 cm) in d.b.h. [15,18,19,31].

The trunk is self-pruning and pillarlike [1]. The crown is often open
and dome-shaped with short, horizontal branches [1]. The bark of young
noble fir is thin but becomes thick with age [22,31]. Cones are erect
and generally 11 to 18 inches long [1,22,31].
  • 46. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
  • 19. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 15. Franklin, Jerry F. 1979. Vegetation of the Douglas-fir region. In: Heilman, Paul E.; Anderson, Harry W.; Baumgartner, David M., eds. Forest soils of the Douglas-fir region. Pullman, Wa: Washington State University, Cooperative Extension Service: 93-112. [8207]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 31. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Physical Description

Tree, Evergreen, Monoecious, Habit erect, Trees without or rarely having knees, Primary plant stem smooth, Tree with bark smooth, Tree with bark rough or scaly, Young shoots 3-dimensional, Buds not resinous, Leaves needle-like, Leaves alternate, Needle-like leaf margins entire (use magnification), Leaf apex obtuse, Leaf apex mucronulate, Leaves < 5 cm long, Leaves < 10 cm long, Leaves blue-green, Leaves white-striped, Needle-like leaves flat, Needle-like leaves not twisted, Needle-like leaf habit erect, Needle-like leaf habit drooping, Needle-like leaves per fascicle mostly 1, Needle-like leaf sheath early deciduous, Needle-like leaf sheath persistent, Twigs glabrous, Twigs not viscid, Twigs without peg-like projections or large fascicles after needles fall, Berry-like cones orange, Woody seed cones > 5 cm long, Bracts of seed cone exerted, Seeds tan, Seeds brown, Seeds winged, Seeds unequally winged, Seed wings prominent, Seed wings equal to or broader than body.
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Stephen C. Meyers

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Abies nobilis (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindley 1833, not A.Dietrich 1824
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species grows from the foothills of mountains in W Washington to high mountain sides in Oregon, between 60 m and 2,700 m a.s.l. It is most abundant in the mountains of the Cascade Range, on a variety of mountain soils with ample moisture available to the vegetation. The climate is cool temperate, with short summers and snowy winters, the annual precipitation ranging from 1,750 mm to 2,600 mm, much of it as snow. It mainly grows in the Canadian Life Zone, but also in the lower Transition Zone, where it can be associated with several other conifers, e.g. Tsuga heterophylla, Picea sitchensis and Thuja plicata near the coast, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Abies grandis, Pinus spp. in much of its range, and Abies lasiocarpa, A. amabilis, Tsuga mertensiana, Picea engelmannii, Larix occidentalis at higher elevations. Common shrubs are Rhododendron spp., Vaccinium spp. and Ribes spp. Abies procera can be dominant, but occurs rarely in pure stands.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the term: vine

Noble fir occurs in a maritime climate with cool summers and mild, wet
winters [17,18,25]. Annual precipitation is between 72 and 106 inches
(1,960-2,650 mm) [18,25]. Most of the precipitation occurs between
October and March, resulting in snowpacks of 3 to 10 feet (1-3 m)
[17,18]. The growing season in the Pacific silver fir zone averages 40
to 50 days [26].

Noble fir grows well on a variety of sites. It occurs on steep slopes
but grows best on gentle slopes and warm southern aspects [17,18,25].
Shallow or moderately deep loams support good growth [28]. Inceptisols
and Spodosols are common. Soils are typically developed in volcanic
parent materials [18,25,47]. Water supply is apparently more important
than soil quality [17,18,24].

In the northern Cascades, noble fir is most common between 3,000 and
5,500 feet (900-1,650 m) in elevation. It can occur below 2,500 feet
(706 m) but is sparse [12,17,36]. Farther south near Crater Lake
National Park, Oregon, noble fir occurs from 5,500 to 8,000 feet
(1,670-2,425 m) [1].

Canopy associates not listed in Distribution and Occurrence are western
larch (Larix occidentalis), Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana), and
Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) [2,9,18,20,39]. Understory
associates include huckleberries (Vaccinium spp.), vine maple (Acer
circinatum), devil's club (Oplopanax horridum), beargrass (Xerophyllum
tenax), dogwood bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), coolwort foamflower
(Tiarella unifoliata), vanillaleaf (Achlys triphylla), queencup beadlily
(Clintonia uniflora), and fairybells (Disporum hookeri) [4,9,20,28,47].
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 2. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1984. Timberline: Mountain and arctic forest frontiers. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 304 p. [339]
  • 4. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 9. Fahnestock, George Reeder. 1977. Interactions of forest fire, flora, and fuels in two Cascade Range wilderness Areas. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 179 p. Thesis. [10431]
  • 12. Filip, Gregory M.; Schmitt, Craig L. 1990. Rx for Abies: silvicultural options for diseased firs in Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-252. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 34 p. [15181]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 24. Gessel, Stanley P.; Oliver, Chadwick Dearing. 1982. Soil-site relationships and productivity of true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 177-184. [6864]
  • 25. Grier, Charles C.; Lee, Katharine M. 1983. Primary production in Abies amabilis zone ecosystems. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 139-144. [6769]
  • 26. Halverson, Nancy M.; Emmingham, William H. 1982. Reforestation in the Cascades Pacific silver fir zone: A survey of sites and management experiences on the Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service R-6 Area Guide R6-ECOL-091-1982. Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, Oregon 37 p. [12491]
  • 36. Neiland, Bonita J. 1958. Forest and adjacent burn in the Tillamook Burn area of northwestern Oregon. Ecology. 39(4): 660-671. [8879]
  • 39. Sawyer, John O.; Thornburgh, Dale A. 1977. Montane and subalpine vegetation of the Klamath Mountains. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley & Sons: 699-732. [685]
  • 47. White, Diane E.; Newton, Michael. 1990. Herbaceous weed control in young conifer plantations with formulations of nitrogen and simazine. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 20: 1685-1689. [13283]
  • 20. Franklin, Jerry F.; Moir, William H.; Hemstrom, Miles A.; [and others]. 1988. The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park. Scientific Monograph Series No 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 194 p. [12392]
  • 28. Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, W. H.; Halverson, Nancy M.; [and others]. 1982. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone, Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. R6-Ecol 100-1982a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 104 p. [5784]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, natural

Noble fir is often dominant in young, mixed stands [21]. It occurs
primarily in the Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) zone [15,17] and
less frequently in the western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and mountain
hemlock (T. mertensiana) zones [17,19]. Noble fir occurs with
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and replaces it in the upper half of
the Pacific silver fir zone [15]. Occasionally, noble fir occurs in
small pure stands [17].

Noble fir is listed as a minor or associated species in the publications
listed below:

Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone,
Gifford Pinchot National Forest [4]
Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington [15]
The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park [20]
Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone,
Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests [28]
Plant association and management guide, Suislaw National forest [29]
Terrestrial natural communities of California [32]
Montane and subalpine vegetation of the Klamath Mountains [39]
  • 19. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 4. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 15. Franklin, Jerry F. 1979. Vegetation of the Douglas-fir region. In: Heilman, Paul E.; Anderson, Harry W.; Baumgartner, David M., eds. Forest soils of the Douglas-fir region. Pullman, Wa: Washington State University, Cooperative Extension Service: 93-112. [8207]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 21. Franklin, Jerry F.; Ritchie, Gary A. 1970. Phenology of cone and shoot development of noble fir and some associated true firs. Forest Science. 16: 356-364. [12911]
  • 29. Hemstrom, Miles A.; Logan, Sheila E. 1986. Plant association and management guide: Siuslaw National Forest. R6-Ecol 220-1986a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 121 p. [10321]
  • 32. Holland, Robert F. 1986. Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial natural communities of California. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game. 156 p. [12756]
  • 39. Sawyer, John O.; Thornburgh, Dale A. 1977. Montane and subalpine vegetation of the Klamath Mountains. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley & Sons: 699-732. [685]
  • 20. Franklin, Jerry F.; Moir, William H.; Hemstrom, Miles A.; [and others]. 1988. The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park. Scientific Monograph Series No 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 194 p. [12392]
  • 28. Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, W. H.; Halverson, Nancy M.; [and others]. 1982. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone, Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. R6-Ecol 100-1982a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 104 p. [5784]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
224 Western hemlock
226 Coastal true fir - hemlock
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest

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Soils and Topography

Noble fir inhabits rugged, mountainous regions, so steep slopes are  typical. It grows on all landforms, from valley bottom to ridgetop.  Positions on a slope are perhaps most typical, although the best stands  are generally on gentle topography. In the northern half of its range,  noble fir shows a preference for warm, moist exposures.

    Noble fir can grow on a wide range of soils if ample moisture is  available; water supply appears to be of more critical importance than  soil quality. Spodosols and Inceptisols are most common. In one study of  soils under seven upper-slope forest types, soils under noble fir stands  had the smallest weight of forest floor (perhaps reflecting favorable  decomposition conditions) and the highest levels of exchangeable calcium.  Soils are typically developed in volcanic parent materials; volcanic  tephra (ash and pumice) and colluvium, often including aerially deposited  ejecta, are the most common materials. Profiles with multiple parent  materials are often found because of multiple deposits of tephra. In the  Coast Ranges, noble fir occurs on both volcanic and sedimentary bedrock.

    Noble fir is generally found at elevations between 1070 and 1680 m  (3,500 and 5,500 ft) in the Cascade Range in Oregon and 910 and 1520 m  (3,000 and 5,000 ft) in the Cascade Range in central Washington. In the  Coast Ranges of Oregon, it generally grows above 910 m (3,000 ft). It is  occasionally found at much lower elevations, however, and shows excellent  growth on such sites.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Noble fir lies entirely within a moist, maritime climatic region. Since  it grows primarily at higher elevations-within the Abies amabilis zone  (10) high precipitation and relatively cool temperatures are  characteristic. Five climatic stations within the range of noble fir  provide representative data. Annual temperatures average 4.4° to 7.2°  C (39.9° to 45.0° F). The mean temperature in January ranges  from -4.4° to -1.1° C (24.1° to 30.0° F) and in July,  from 13.3° to 16.1° C (55.9° to 60.9° F). Annual  precipitation averages 1960 to 2410 mm (77.2 to 94.9 in). About  three-fourths of this precipitation occurs between October and March, and  much of it accumulates as snowpacks with maximum depths of 1 to 3 m (3 to  10 ft).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

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Habitat & Distribution

Mixed coniferous forests; 60--2700m; Calif., Oreg., Wash.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Associations

Foodplant / false gall
Adelges piceae causes swelling of live, sometimes swollen branch of Abies procera

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Abies procera

Foodplant / parasite
stromatic, clustered pseudothecium of Curreya pityophila parasitises twig of poorly developed tree of Abies procera

Foodplant / pathogen
hypophyllous perithecium of Sydowia polyspora infects and damages red-brown, then darkening, shrivelled, attached leaf (young) of Abies procera

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Associated Forest Cover

Noble fir is associated with most other Pacific Northwest conifers at  some point in its range. Most commonly these are Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga  menziesii), Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis), western and  mountain hemlocks (Tsuga heterophylla and T. mertensiana),  western white and lodgepole pines (Pinus monticola and P.  contorta), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), and  Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). It is also found  growing with grand and subalpine firs (Abies grandis and A.  lasiocarpa), Engelmann and Sitka spruces (Picea engelmannii and  P. sitchensis), western larch (Larix occidentalis), and  whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis).

    Noble fir is a component of five forest cover types (4): Mountain  Hemlock (Society of American Foresters Type 205), Western Hemlock (Type  224), Coastal True Fir-Hemlock (Type 226), Pacific Douglas-Fir (Type 229),  and Douglas-Fir-Western Hemlock (Type 230). It is a significant component  only in Type 226, where noble fir stands are recognized as a major  variant.

    Most noble fir is found primarily within the Abies amabilis zone  (10) with lesser amounts in the Tsuga mertensiana (particularly in  Oregon) and Tsuga heterophylla (particularly in Washington) zones.  It is a component of many recognized plant community and habitat types  within these zones (3,7,9). Noble fir presence by habitat type in southern  Washington (9) is typical of the general pattern. Noble fir is poorly  represented on colder sites in the Tsuga mertensiana zone and is  scarce in the very widespread and environmentally moderate Abies  amabilis/Vaccinium alaskaense habitat type. It is abundant in the  relatively warm, well-watered Abies amabilis / Tiarella unifoliata  habitat type and in the Abies amabilis/Xerophyllum tenax habitat  type. Noble fir attains best development on sites characterized by rich  herbaceous understories.

    Understory plants associated with noble fir typically include an array  of ericaceous shrubs and evergreen herbs. Shrubs (10) include rustyleaf  menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea), Alaska huckleberry (Vaccinium  alaskaense), big huckleberry (V. membranaceum), red  huckleberry (V. parvifolium), ovalleaf huckleberry (V.  ovalifolium), Cascades azalea (Rhododendron albiflorum), Pacific  rhododendron (R. macrophyllum), and various currants (Ribes  spp.). Common herbs include beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax),  two trailing blackberries (Rubus lasiococcus and R.  pedatus), avalanche fawnlily (Erythronium montanum), queenscup  (Clintonia uniflora), purple twistedstalk (Streptopus roseus),  slim Solomon's seal (Smilacina sessilifolia), coolwort  foamflower (Tiarella unifoliata), and white inside-out-flower (Vancouveria  hexandra).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Insects can be common in cones and seeds. In a  study of two locales in a modest seed year, 36 per cent of noble fir seeds  were affected by insects (26). The fir seed chalcid (Megastigmus  pinus) was found in 21 percent of the seeds; not all these seeds would  necessarily have been filled, however, as the chalcid can develop in  unfertilized seeds. Fir cone maggots (Earomyia barbara and E.  longistylata) affected 12 percent and a cone moth (Eucosma  siskiyouana) 6 percent of the seeds. Other cone insects have been  identified by Scurlock (26). One of these, Dioryctria abietivorellacan mine buds, shoots, and trunks, as well as cones.

    Insects reported as attacking noble fir include two bark beetles (Pseudohylesinus  nobilis and P. dispar (15); a weevil, Pissodes dubious,  sometimes in association with the fir root bark beetle, Pseudohylesinus  granulatus; and a large root aphid, Prociphilus americanus. The  balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae) does not infest noble fir  to a significant degree (15), despite earlier reports of susceptibility  (6). Adelges nusslini does infest ornamental noble firs in Canada.

    Mature noble firs are relatively free of serious pathogens. Gray-mold  blight (Botrytis cinerea) and brown felt mold (Herpotrichia  nigra) cause some damage and loss of seedlings. Numerous foliage  diseases-needle cast fungi and rusts-attack noble fir, but none are  considered serious threats except on Christmas trees.

    Butt and root rots currently known to infect noble fir are Phaeolus  schweinitzii, Inonotus tomentosus, Poria subacida, and possibly Stereum  chaillettii. Hepting (19) identifies no major root diseases that kill  noble fir, although such pathogens may exist.

    Trunk rots are occasionally important, generally only in over-mature  timber. The principal trunk rot is Indian paint fungus (Echinodontium  tinctorium). Others include Phellinus pini, Fomes nobilissimus, F.  robustus, Fomitopsis officinalis, F. pinicola, and Polyporus  abietinus.

    Noble fir in the extreme southern part of its range is attacked by dwarf  mistletoe, but this is apparently Arceuthobium tsugense and not  A. abietinum (5). Mistletoe infections have been associated with  extensive mortality of branches (5).

    Bark is occasionally stripped from the lower boles of pole-size noble  firs by black bear. In one 70-year-old stand, more than half the noble  firs had large basal scars from such attacks.

    Climatic damage to noble fir includes occasional snow breakage of tops  and leaders (especially in sapling and pole-size stands) and windbreak and  windthrow of mature boles. The species is very tolerant of exposed sites,  such as are found along the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and  Washington.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: density

After a clearcut, seedling density was greater on unburned or
low-intensity burned areas compared to areas that burned at moderate to
severe intensity [27].
  • 27. Harrington, Constance A.; Murray, Marshall D. 1982. Patterns of height growth in western true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 209-214. [6867]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: root crown, secondary colonizer

Tree without adventitious-bud root crown
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fuel, resistance

The bark of young noble fir is relatively thin [35]. Fire resistance of
larger, thicker barked trees is reported to be low [6,35] to moderate
[6,25,49]. The foliage of noble fir is moderately to highly flammable
[35].

Noble fir prunes well in closed, dense stands [1,18]. Stands dominated
by noble fir have the smallest quantites of forest floor material
(compared with stands dominated by other western conifers that occur in
its range), and accumulation of fuel is low [9,47].

After stand-destroying fires, noble fir and Douglas-fir are initial
colonizers [43].
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 6. Dale, Virginia H.; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Franklin, Jerry F. 1984. The effect of disturbance frequency on forest succession in the Pacific Northwest. In: New forests for a changing world: Proceedings of the 1983 convention of The Society of American Foresters; 1983 October 16-20; Portland, OR. Bethesda, MD: Society of American Foresters: 300-304. [4781]
  • 9. Fahnestock, George Reeder. 1977. Interactions of forest fire, flora, and fuels in two Cascade Range wilderness Areas. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 179 p. Thesis. [10431]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 25. Grier, Charles C.; Lee, Katharine M. 1983. Primary production in Abies amabilis zone ecosystems. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 139-144. [6769]
  • 35. Minore, Don. 1979. Comparative autecological characteristics of northwestern tree species--a literature review. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-87. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 72 p. [1659]
  • 43. Stewart, Glenn H. 1986. Population dynamics of a montane conifer forest, western Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Ecology. 67(2): 534-544. [7505]
  • 47. White, Diane E.; Newton, Michael. 1990. Herbaceous weed control in young conifer plantations with formulations of nitrogen and simazine. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 20: 1685-1689. [13283]
  • 49. Houston, C. Stuart; Scott, Frank. 1992. The effect of man-made platforms on osprey reproduction at Loon Lake, Saskatchewan. Journal of Raptor Research. 26(3): 152-158. [18439]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: tree

Noble fir begins producing seed at 25 to 30 years of age, but
large-volume crops are not produced until age 35 to 50 [14,17,45]. Good
seed crops are produced at 3- to 6-year intervals [7,14,17,45].

Seed quality is often poor [18]. Cone crops need to be medium size or
better for sound seed to exceed 10 percent [17]. Cone and seed
collection, drying, and storage techniques are discussed in the
literature [7]. Insects that cause some losses are also discussed [45].
Seeds are disseminated by wind. Seeds can be dispersed up to 2,000 feet
(367 m) from the source, but most fall within one or two tree height of
the parent [7,17].

Seeds usually germinate in the spring after they are shed [1,19]. Seeds
remain viable for only 1 year. A mineral seedbed in relatively open
areas is favorable for seedling establishment and growth [22].
Competing vegetation and frosts deter regeneration of noble fir [18].

As with other firs, initial juvenile growth is slow [16,17,27]. Noble
fir requires 5 to 12 years to reach breast height, depending on site
condition [16,18,27]. Growth from a sapling stage to maturity is rapid,
allowing noble fir to attain site dominance [27,43]. As the tree ages,
growth slows [27]. Where they occur together, noble fir growth exceeds
Douglas-fir after 100 years [24].

Noble fir does not reproduce vegetatively [18].
  • 19. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 7. Edwards, D. G. W. 1982. Collection, processing, testing, and storage of true fir seeds--a review. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources; Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 113-137. [11894]
  • 14. Franklin, Jerry F. 1974. Abies Mill. fir. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 168-183. [7566]
  • 16. Franklin, Jerry F. 1982. The true fir resource. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 1-6. [6600]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 24. Gessel, Stanley P.; Oliver, Chadwick Dearing. 1982. Soil-site relationships and productivity of true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 177-184. [6864]
  • 27. Harrington, Constance A.; Murray, Marshall D. 1982. Patterns of height growth in western true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 209-214. [6867]
  • 43. Stewart, Glenn H. 1986. Population dynamics of a montane conifer forest, western Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Ecology. 67(2): 534-544. [7505]
  • 45. Tanaka, Yasuomi. 1982. Biology of Abies seed production. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 103-111. [6768]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Specific information regarding fire-related mortality is lacking.
Because of its thin bark, however, it is assumed that young and immature
noble fir would likely be killed by moderate to severe fire.

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

Facultative Seral Species

Noble fir is a seral or pioneer species [18]. It is the most shade
intolerant of the American true firs [18] and cannot regenerate under a
closed forest canopy [1,17,18]. Noble fir often establishes with
Douglas-fir [4,9,15,17,19]. It establishes after disturbances such as
wildfire that create major stand openings [17,22]. Even-aged stands are
common [13,43]. Noble fir is classified as intermediate in shade
tolerance. Overtopped seedlings of noble fir occasionally persist, and
in the Oregon Coast Ranges, seedlings sometimes establish in partial
shade [18]. Noble fir is eventually replaced by shade-tolerant species
such as Pacific silver fir and western hemlock [9,17,22].
  • 19. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 4. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 9. Fahnestock, George Reeder. 1977. Interactions of forest fire, flora, and fuels in two Cascade Range wilderness Areas. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 179 p. Thesis. [10431]
  • 13. Franklin, Jerry F. 1964. Ecology and silviculture of the true fir-hemlock forests of the Pacific Northwest. In: Proceedings, Society of American Foresters meeting; 1964 September 27 - October 1; Denver, CO. Washington, D.C.: Society of American Foresters: 28-32. [7920]
  • 15. Franklin, Jerry F. 1979. Vegetation of the Douglas-fir region. In: Heilman, Paul E.; Anderson, Harry W.; Baumgartner, David M., eds. Forest soils of the Douglas-fir region. Pullman, Wa: Washington State University, Cooperative Extension Service: 93-112. [8207]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 43. Stewart, Glenn H. 1986. Population dynamics of a montane conifer forest, western Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Ecology. 67(2): 534-544. [7505]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Reaction to Competition

Noble fir has the most intolerance for  shade of American true firs. Regeneration cannot be established under a  closed forest canopy. Consequently, noble fir is considered a seral or  pioneer species subject to replacement by its very tolerant associates,  Pacific silver fir and western hemlock. It is classed as having  intermediate tolerance to shade. Overtopped noble fir saplings and poles  may occasionally persist. Seedlings became established in partial shade in  the Oregon Coast Ranges (8) and should, therefore, be able to establish  themselves successfully under all but the densest shelterwoods. This  ability, along with the heavy seed, indicates that shelterwoods or small  clearcuts should be the preferred cutting method for natural regeneration  of noble fir.

    Noble fir prunes itself well in closed stands and develops a short,  rounded crown. This short crown, along with an apparent inability to form  epicormic or adventitious sprouts, may be a factor in the decline and  death of mature noble firs exposed to major stresses, such as along a  clearcut boundary. The crown may be unable to sustain the tree when  altered temperature or moisture conditions cause higher physiological  demands.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

The main root of noble fir is slow growing,  whereas lateral roots develop rapidly and have few branches (30). Root  systems of typical 1- to 3-year-old seedlings do not appear fibrous, and  there is no well-developed taproot. The absence of an early taproot may  explain why seedlings survive only in moist soils.

    Little is known about the rooting habit of noble fir trees beyond the  seedling stage. Noble fir appears to be at least moderately windfirm,  certainly superior to western hemlock and Engelmann spruce.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Jerry F. Franklin

Source: Silvics of North America

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Male and female bud burst occurs in May and early June, and is followed
by pollen shed in June and early July [14,18,21,45]. Pollen shedding
and female receptivity are well synchronized in noble fir [21,45].
Cones ripen in mid- to late September, and seed dispersal begins in
early October [14,21,45]. Seed dissemination requires wind action or
other branch movement to disturb the cone [7,21]. Height growth is
greatest in July [27].
  • 7. Edwards, D. G. W. 1982. Collection, processing, testing, and storage of true fir seeds--a review. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources; Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 113-137. [11894]
  • 14. Franklin, Jerry F. 1974. Abies Mill. fir. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 168-183. [7566]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 21. Franklin, Jerry F.; Ritchie, Gary A. 1970. Phenology of cone and shoot development of noble fir and some associated true firs. Forest Science. 16: 356-364. [12911]
  • 27. Harrington, Constance A.; Murray, Marshall D. 1982. Patterns of height growth in western true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 209-214. [6867]
  • 45. Tanaka, Yasuomi. 1982. Biology of Abies seed production. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 103-111. [6768]

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Noble fir is not known to reproduce  vegetatively.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

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Source: Silvics of North America

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Seedling Development

Noble fir seeds are of transient viability  under natural conditions, and most germinate in the first growing season  after dispersal. They remain viable for only one season in the forest  floor. Germination is epigeal. Noble fir seeds germinate freely, and  seedlings grow well in the open or in moderate shade on any moist humus or  mineral soil. Initial development of seedlings is typically slow. Total  height of 1-year-old seedlings is 2 to 5 cm (0.8 to 2.0 in), of which 1 to  3 cm (0.4 to 1.1 in) is growth above the whorl of four to seven  cotyledons. Seedlings typically require 3 to 5 years to reach a height of  0.3 m (1 ft).

    Seed dispersed after snow covers the ground may germinate in and on the  snowbanks the next spring, with essentially no chance for survival of such  germinants.

    Natural regeneration of noble fir appears to have variable success. In  one early study, it was so rapid and abundant that it was used to support  the hypothesis of reproduction from seed stored in the duff (21). Noble  fir was disproportionately successful at regenerating in some small burns  at high elevations, but it also failed to regenerate in one small burn  where it consisted of 25 percent of the potential seed source (29).  Competing vegetation may deter regeneration of noble fir on some sites  (6).

    Little information is available on regeneration of noble fir after  clearcutting. On some clearcuts, regeneration is successful; on others, it  can be sparse despite an available seed source. Stocking was found to be  superior to that of Douglas-fir on three of five upper-slope habitat types  in the central Willamette National Forest in Oregon (28). The 15- to  17-year-old clearcuts had 282 to 1,779 noble fir seedlings per hectare  (114 to 720/acre), depending on habitat type. Growth was slow; noble fir  reached heights of 30 to 51 cm (12 to 20 in) at 7 years. In summary,  although development of good natural noble fir regeneration is possible,  it is not yet predictable.

    Early growth of planted seedlings is variable, depending on site  conditions and stock. In one study, growth was slow; noble fir seedlings  were only 8.4 cm (3.3 in) tall at the end of the first growing season in  the field, half the height of Douglas-fir seedlings planted at the same  time. Damage from browsing was much less on noble fir than on Douglas-fir,  however. In a test of containerized noble fir seedlings, survival averaged  77 and 60 percent for containerized and bare-root stock, respectively,  after 7 years. Total height after 7 years averaged 56 and 46 cm (22 and 18  in) for containerized and bare-root stock, significantly less than for  Douglas-fir. Other plantings of noble fir have shown substantially better  early growth than these two examples.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

Trees may begin bearing cones  at 20 years of age, although commercial seed bearing is generally  considered to begin at about 50 years. Older trees can produce large  quantities of seeds. The current record is an estimated 3,000 cones,  potentially yielding more than 1,500,000 seeds, produced by one tree in a  single year. In studies extending over the Pacific Northwest Region, noble  fir produced a medium or better crop (median cone count of at least 10  cones per tree) 42 percent of the time (7,13). Cone production at  particular locations was much poorer, however, especially in the high  Cascades and along the eastern margin of the range of noble fir.  Individual stands had intervals of as long as 6 years between medium cone  crops.

    Seed quality is typically poor. Collections from seed traps in natural  stands (equivalent to 54 seed years) had a maximum of 49 percent sound  seeds; the overall average was about 10 percent. Seed quality is strongly  correlated with the cone crop, which must be at least medium size before  sound seeds exceed 10 percent (7). Most unsound seeds collected in seed  traps consist of round but unfilled seeds, relatively small amounts being  damaged by insects.

    Possible explanations for the poor seed quality include inadequate  pollen (especially in young stands and poor seed years), poor synchrony  between female receptivity and pollen shedding (12), selfing, insects, and  meiotic irregularities in developing pollen. The most important factors  may be similar to those suggested for Pacific silver fir (24). Firs have  unspecialized pollen mechanisms, long periods of pollen dormancy, a short  time after germination when pollen tubes must develop and penetrate the  long nucellar tip, and archegonia that abort quickly if unfertilized.  These traits, plus a low number of archegonia, may cause the low  percentage of viable seeds.

    Noble fir seeds are not widely dispersed because of their weight, which  averages 29,750 seeds per kilogram (13,500/lb) (25). Wind is the major  agent of dispersal. Although the seeds can fly over 600 m (2,000 ft)  (22), most actually fall within one or two tree heights of the seed trees  (1). Thornburgh (29) thought that the local distributional pattern of  noble fir was mainly controlled by limited seed dispersal capabilities  coupled with low resistance to fire. Most noble firs in his study area  were in bums that were narrow in one dimension. In one large burn that was  wider than the others, noble fir grew mostly along the edges.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Like other true firs, noble fir is  monoecious and produces female strobili high in the crown and clusters of  male strobili in a zone below. Female strobili are borne singly or in  groups of two, or rarely, up to five, on the upper side of 1-year-old  twigs. Male strobili are borne in clusters of up to 30 or more on the  undersides of branchlets.

    Phenological data for noble fir at three locales and over 3 years show  the following ranges in timespans (12):

      Male bud burst  May 7 to June 2      Female bud burst  May 11 to June 4      Vegetative bud burst  May 21 to July 5      Pollen shedding  June 1 to July 5      Period of female receptivity  May 25 to July 6      Initiation of seed dispersal  Sept. 27 to Oct. 7        Slightly earlier dates have been recorded for some events (6). Timing of  phenological events has varied as much as 2 weeks in 3 years at the same  site (12). Events are typically delayed by 1 or 2 days for each 30 m (100  ft) rise in elevation.

    Seven developmental stages have been identified for female strobili  (12), beginning with bud swelling and ending with cone shattering. A  period of early rapid growth coincides with pollen receptivity; this  growth period does not appear to be as sensitive to temperature as earlier  growth periods. Cone growth is generally completed by mid-August of the  same year.

    Development of male strobili appears to be sensitive to temperature and  humidity; pollen shedding requires warm, dry weather.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Initial growth of noble fir is typically  slower than that of associated species. Noble firs averaged 7.3 years to  breast height (1.37 m or 4.5 ft) against 6.9 for Douglas-fir in one study  (31). Significantly slower growth (for example, 11 years to breast height)  is suggested by others (16,28).

    The height growth patterns of noble fir have been described for young  stands (17,23), for British plantations (2), and for trees up to 300 years  (20). Young trees on good sites are capable of height increments of nearly  1.2 m (4 ft). Height-growth curves (fig. 1) show the ability of undamaged  trees to maintain height growth to very advanced ages (200 to 250 years).  Maximum heights are greater than 79 m (260 ft) on the best sites, and  heights at age 100 (determined at breast height) range from 18 to 49 m (60  to 160 ft).

     
Figure 1-Height-growth patterns of natural free-grown  noble 
fir over the general range of site qualities (adapted from
20).

    The largest known noble fir is 274 cm (108 in) in d.b.h., 84.7 m (278  ft) tall, and has a crown spread of 14.3 m (47 ft). Mature specimens are  commonly 114 to 152 cm (45 to 60 in) in d.b.h. and 40 to 53 m (132 to 175  ft) tall.

    Noble fir grows most frequently in mixed stands with other species, such  as Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and Pacific silver fir. It has a greater  volume for a given diameter and height than any of its associates and  dominates such stands, contributing volume out of proportion to the number  of trees. It does grow in nearly pure stands, however, and is capable of  producing high standing volumes and good growth over a wide range of ages  and site qualities (7,14). Sustained height growth, high stand densities,  a high form factor, and thin bark all contribute to the development of  large volumes of trees and stands. Volumes of about 1400 m³/ha  (100,000 fbm/acre) are indicated at culmination of mean annual increment  on site class II lands (for example, site index 36 m or 119 ft at 100  years). In the grove at Goat Marsh Research Natural Area on the  southwestern slopes of Mount St. Helens in Washington, the gross volume of  the best contiguous 1-ha (2.47acre) block is 5752 m³/ha (82,200 ft³/acre  or 407,950 fbm/acre); this value significantly exceeds the best gross  volume for an acre of Douglas-fir. British yield tables for noble fir  plantations indicate that yields from managed stands should also be high  (2).

    The high form class (small amount of taper) of noble fir has been noted  by many foresters and scientists (2).

    Culmination of mean annual increment (MAI) appears to be relatively late  in normally stocked stands of noble fir. Volume and, to a lesser extent,  MAI increase rapidly in stands from ages 70 to 100 years. The approximate  culmination of MAI for site class 11 (site index of 36 m or 119 ft) seems  to be between 115 and 130 years.

    Various comparisons of growth have been made between noble fir and  Douglas-fir (7,17,23). Site index at 100 years for noble fir is almost  always higher than for Douglas-fir on upper-slope habitat types. Despite  the slower initial start, noble fir overtops the associated Douglas-firs.  Yields of noble fir stands at various ages are 10 to 51 percent higher in  board-foot volume and 56 to 114 percent higher in cubic-foot volume than  shown in the normal yield tables for Douglas-fir stands of comparable site  indexes.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Noble fir has a high self-fertility (27). Selfing produced 69 percent of  the sound seeds produced by outcross pollination; there was no difference  between selfed and outcrossed progeny in weight and germination of seeds  or in survival after 3 years. The number of cotyledons was greater for  selfed individuals, but 3- and 10-year height growth was less. Survival of  outplanted outcross trees did not differ after 10 years from that of  wind-pollinated and selfed trees.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Abies procera

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Abies procera

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Farjon, A.

Reviewer/s
Thomas, P. & Stritch, L.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species, while affected by past logging with an unknown reduction in its original (pre-European settlement) area of occupancy, still occupies vast areas where many stands are nearly pure, especially in managed forest areas, with good regeneration after logging. In other areas it is strictly protected, as in the national parks of the region. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern.
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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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Population

Population
Locally abundant.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
Historically logging of this valuable fir has undoubtedly had a negative effect on the area of occupancy where logged stands were subsequently replaced with other trees or other forms of land use. Quantifying this loss over 150 years or three generations is very difficult. The decline has now virtually ceased.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species occurs within a number of protected areas throughout its range, including several national parks where any logging is banned.
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Management considerations

More info for the term: tree

Noble fir is a preferred species for planting or seeding within its
range [37]. Based on 10-year performance, noble fir is acceptable for
reforestation of high-elevation stock in British Columbia with variable
results in productivity [40]. In the Pacific silver fir zone, noble fir
maintains good growth in dense stands and is appropriate where summer
frost is likely to occur but should not be planted in severe frost
pockets of clearcuts [26]. Noble fir is not recommended for planting on
sites with a slope of less than 15 degrees [4,26].

Noble fir roots deeply making it resistant to wind damage [1,6]. It has
a high frost tolerance and low drought tolerance [12,17].

Generally, noble fir does not suffer major losses from pests [13,16,17].
Noble fir bark beetle (Pseudohylesinus nobilis) is often associated with
root-diseased trees and can kill the tree [12,16]. Dwarf mistletoe may
be a problem requiring management action in some areas [11,12,16,17,41].
  • 37. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 4. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 6. Dale, Virginia H.; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Franklin, Jerry F. 1984. The effect of disturbance frequency on forest succession in the Pacific Northwest. In: New forests for a changing world: Proceedings of the 1983 convention of The Society of American Foresters; 1983 October 16-20; Portland, OR. Bethesda, MD: Society of American Foresters: 300-304. [4781]
  • 11. Filip, Gregory M.; Hoffman, James T. 1991. Root disease management in western-montane forest soils. In: Harvey, Alan E.; Neuenschwander, Leon F., compilers. Proceedings--management and productivity of western-montane forest soils; 1990 April 10-12; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-280. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 167-170. [15981]
  • 12. Filip, Gregory M.; Schmitt, Craig L. 1990. Rx for Abies: silvicultural options for diseased firs in Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-252. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 34 p. [15181]
  • 13. Franklin, Jerry F. 1964. Ecology and silviculture of the true fir-hemlock forests of the Pacific Northwest. In: Proceedings, Society of American Foresters meeting; 1964 September 27 - October 1; Denver, CO. Washington, D.C.: Society of American Foresters: 28-32. [7920]
  • 16. Franklin, Jerry F. 1982. The true fir resource. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 1-6. [6600]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 26. Halverson, Nancy M.; Emmingham, William H. 1982. Reforestation in the Cascades Pacific silver fir zone: A survey of sites and management experiences on the Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service R-6 Area Guide R6-ECOL-091-1982. Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, Oregon 37 p. [12491]
  • 40. Scagel, Rob; Green, Bob; Von Hahn, Helmar; Evans, Richard. 1989. Exploratory high elevation regeneration trials in the Vancouver forest region: 10-year species performance of planted stock. FRDA Report 098. Victoria, BC: BC Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. 40 p. [1477]
  • 41. Scharpf, Robert F. 1982. Problems of dwarf mistletoe in advance regeneration of true firs. In: Jacob, William R., ed. Proceedings of the 13th Western International Forest Disease Work Conference; 1982 September 12-16; Fallen Leaf Lake, CA. Vernon, BC: Western International Forest Disease Work Conference: 33-36. [7922]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

More info for the term: tree

Noble fir brings a substantial price as a Christmas tree [1,16,22].
It is also utilized as ornamental greenery [16,18].

Noble fir is also important in watershed protection [18,22].
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 16. Franklin, Jerry F. 1982. The true fir resource. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 1-6. [6600]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

Noble fir provides cover and thermal protection for wildlife [18].
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

On sizeable clearcuts or burned areas, noble fir can quickly establish;
however, actual data varies with site [1,18].
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]

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Wood Products Value

The soft wood of noble fir is lightweight and has good form
[1,16,18,22]. It is the strongest wood of the true firs [14,17]. The
wood is suitable for light construction and pulping [16]. High-quality
noble fir wood is used for moldings, sash and door stock, venetian
blinds, and veneer [42]. The wood of noble fir is also a specialty wood
used for ladder rails and airplane construction because of its high
strength to weight ratio [1,16,17,18]. Noble fir wood is exported to
Japan for home building [16].
  • 1. Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1977. Northwest trees. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 222 p. [4208]
  • 14. Franklin, Jerry F. 1974. Abies Mill. fir. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 168-183. [7566]
  • 16. Franklin, Jerry F. 1982. The true fir resource. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 1-6. [6600]
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 18. Franklin, Jerry F. 1990. Abies procera Rehd. noble fir. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 80-87. [13371]
  • 42. Smith, Ramsay. 1982. Utilization of true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 239-242. [6869]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Special Uses

The wood of noble fir has always been valued over that of other true  firs because of its greater strength. Loggers called it larch to avoid the  prejudice against the wood of true fir; the two Larch Mountains opposite  one another across the Columbia River near Portland, OR, were named for  the noble fir that grows on their summits. Because of its high  strength-to-weight ratio, it has been used for specialty products, such as  stock for ladder rails and construction of airplanes.

    In 1979, noble fir constituted about 12 percent of the Christmas tree  production in the Pacific Northwest and was priced (wholesale) 35 to 40  percent higher than Douglas-firs. Noble fir greenery is also in  considerable demand and can provide high financial returns in young  stands.

    Like most true firs, noble fir is an attractive tree for ornamental  planting and landscaping.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Wikipedia

Abies procera

Abies procera, the Noble fir,[2] also called red fir[2] and Christmastree,[2] is a western North American fir, native to the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of extreme northwest California and western Oregon and Washington in the United States. It is a high altitude tree, typically occurring at 300–1,500 metres (980–4,900 ft) altitude, only rarely reaching tree line.

Description[edit]

Abies procera is a large evergreen tree up to 40–70 m (130–230 ft.) tall and 2 m (6.5 ft.) trunk diameter, rarely to 90 m (295 ft.) tall and 2.7 m (8.9 ft.) diameter,[3] with a narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth and gray with resin blisters, becoming red-brown, rough and fissured on old trees. The leaves are needle-like, 1–3.5 cm long, glaucous blue-green above and below with strong stomatal bands, and a blunt to notched tip. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but twisted slightly s-shaped to be upcurved above the shoot. The cones are erect, 11–22 cm (4.3–8.7 in) long, with the purple scales almost completely hidden by the long exserted yellow-green bract scales; ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in fall.

Abies procera is very closely related to red fir (Abies magnifica), which replaces it farther southeast in southernmost Oregon and California, being best distinguished by the leaves having a groove along the midrib on the upper side; red fir does not show this. Red fir also tends to have the leaves less closely packed, with the shoot bark visible between the leaves, whereas the shoot is largely hidden in noble fir. Red fir cones also mostly have shorter bracts, except in Abies magnifica var. shastensis; this variety is considered by some botanists to be a hybrid between noble fir and red fir.


Uses[edit]

Noble fir is a popular Christmas tree.

The wood is used for general structural purposes and paper manufacture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of all Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b c "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  3. ^ "Gymnosperm Database - Abies procera". Retrieved 2013-09-06. 

Further reading[edit]

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Notes

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See discussion under Abies magnifica.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of noble fir is Abies procera
Rehd. [31,34]. There are no recognized varieties or subspecies.

Noble fir hybridizes readily with California red fir (Abies magnifica)
[22,34]. Populations in southern Oregon and northwestern California may
represent hybrid swarms between these two species [22]. Noble fir
occurring south of the McKenzie River is not genetically pure [17].
  • 17. Franklin, Jerry F. 1983. Ecology of noble fir. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid M., eds. Proceedings of the biology and management of true fir in the Pacific Northwest symposium; 1981 February 24-26; Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Contribution No. 45. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resources: 59-69. [7783]
  • 31. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 34. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 22. Franklin, J. F.; Sorensen, F. C.; Campbell, R. K. 1978. Summarization of the ecology and genetics of the noble and California red fir complex. In: Proc IUFRO Jt. Meet. Work. Parties; [Date of conference unknown]; Victoria, B.C.. Volume 1. Victoria, B.C.: B.C. Ministry of Forestry, Information Service Branch: 133-139. [7918]

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Common Names

noble fir
red fir
white fir
larch

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Synonyms

Abies nobilis (Dougl.) Lindl.

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