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Woody > Abies > Abies amabilis > Abies amabilis

Abies amabilis

Lovely Fir, Pacific Silver Fir

Origin:  Eastern Canada and the United States of America.
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Abies amabilis is a climax species of America that is usually found in the cool, moist climate on the eastern side of Canada and the United States of America. This particular tree can live to around 400-500 years and has many uses, both agriculturally and medically. The boughs have a spicy fragrance that can be used as an air freshener as well the sap can be used as an antiseptic, stimulant or for the treatment of coughs, colds and Gonorrhea. Abies amabilis’ common name is the Lovely Fir, the Latin meaning of amabilis is lovely, it is also referred to as the Pacific Silver Fir due to the silvery underside of its needles.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
- 28
Temperature (°F)
- 4
45 m
3 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
This tree is a large, narrow coniferous tree which has shiny, dark green needles on the top of the branch, with a silvery undercoating. It has thin, grey bark in youth, becoming red-brown in maturity, which can be covered in resinous blisters.
Abies amabilis is primarily used as a forestry product, as the wood is weak. This wood is used in new housing as the frame, or for foundation work but can also be often used as Christmas trees, and can be mulched. This tree is not commonly used in gardens because of its tall, thin structure.
The Lovely Fir can be grown in full sun, or partial shade. It tolerates wet or dry soils, and can grow in loamy, clay, or sandy media. It requires at least 40 frost free days to grow successfully.
Vertical, straight crown becoming flat topped with age; a cylindric tree.
ID Characteristic
Abies amabilis has considerably larger cones than A. grandis, and A. lasiocarpa, but smaller cones than A. procera, which also has extruded bracts. If cones cannot be found, it can be identified by its preference in habitat, as it is one of the only spruce that can thrive in shaded climates, forming the mostly dominant understory species. It can also be distinguished by the difference in foliage, as the needles grow in a linear, straight fashion in comparison to A. procera which forms a hockey stick shape.
Abies amabilis is seriously affected by annosus root disease, which can lead to infestation from fir-engraver beetle, silver fir beetle, or fir root bark beetle. Another devastating pest to the Lovely Fir is the balsam woody aphid, which causes the infected trees to look swollen, (begins to die in 2 - 3 years, and has mottled red foliage). Seed chalcids and cone maggots infest a high proportion of cones, leading to less viable seed production in further years.
The Lovely Spruce grows in cool, wet regions, including the eastern coastal fog belt, and interior mountain valleys. It is found in much higher, wetter regions than other firs at around 300 m. Abies amabilis can also tolerate more shade than other species, both during the sapling and mature stages.
Bark/Stem Description
New branches are grey turning red with age. Bark is thin, with pockets of resin found covering its surface.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Small, spherical, brown, globose, 6 - 9 mm diameter with violet wax.
Leaf Description
The leaf is 2 - 4 cm long 1 - 3 mm wide stomatiferous silver on the bottom, shiny dark green with grooves on top. Crowded, flat leaves which spread forward in 2 rows, curving upward on topmost twigs.
Fruit Description
The fruit is 7.5 - 15.25 cm long and 3.5 - 7 cm wide, cylindrical, upright, on highest branches with long-winged seeds. Male cones during pollination are red and grow beneath the leaves, gaining a yellow tinge. Seeds are 10 - 12 mm long 4 mm wide, and can have upwards of 400 seeds per cone.
Colour Description
Female cones are purple-grey, turning brown with time while pollen cones are red, turning a yellow tinge over time. The bark is grey at youth, becoming reddish brown at maturity and needles are dark green on top and silvery on the base.
Texture Description
Medium coarse to somewhat coarse.
Notable Specimens
Loss Creek near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, Canada.
Seeds should be planted 6 mm deep, and sown in early spring to enhance germination. Seeds are found in 20 - 30 year old hosts, and these mature trees require at least 2 years in order to complete one reproduction cycle. The seeds require cold-stratification to germinate.