World Plants Logo

search the world

Woody > Abies > Abies grandis > Abies grandis

Abies grandis

Grand Fir, Vancouver Fir

Origin:  Western Canada and the United States of America.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


Abies grandis is a long lived tree, sometimes living more than 300 years, and is used for many different medical and aesthetic purposes. Boughs from the tree are sometimes used as both a moth repellant as well as incense. A slightly pink dye can be created from the bark and the leaves can be crushed and be used as baby powder. It is named the Grand Fir because of its large stature, its many uses, and its dense foliage. This tree however is primarily used for fuel and mulch because of its weak wood.

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


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 7
Canadian Hardiness Zone
5 - 7
30 - 60 m
14 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
The Grand Fir is a tall evergreen tree, with glossy green needles. Its yellow to purplish green cones are found near the crown of the plant, with the pollen bearers being found near the base.
Due to the soft brittle nature of the wood, this tree is primarily harvested as lumber and mulch for commercial purposes. It is also a favored species for Christmas trees, due to its symmetry, lush foliage, and deep green colour.
Partial sun to shade tolerant, the Grand Fir prefers well drained soils with adequate moisture. Not tolerant to pollution or urbanized landscapes, it grows slowly for the first few years, then rapidly to around a meter a year even when mature.
Narrowly conical, tall growing tree.
ID Characteristic
One of the tallest true firs, its needles have notched tips, circular leaf scars, and distinct flat, comb-like needle arrangement.
Indian paint fungus and Stringy Butt Rot are root rot fungi which affects Abies grandis; these diseases can also cause other pests to disturb the tree. The western spruce budworm and Douglas-fir tussock moth have caused widespread defoliation, top kill, and mortality in the firs. These trees can also become infected with the western balsam bark beetle and the fir engraver, which are the principal bark beetles attacking the Grand Fir.
The Grand Fir grows best in valleys, stream bottoms, and mountain slopes in a cool, wet climate. It is usually found in coniferous forests in Western British Columbia and the coast of the United States, from California to Washington. This tree grows most abundantly on deep, sediment rich soils along streams and valley bottoms and on moist soils provided with drainage. In the inland regions it grows best on rich mineral soils of the valley bottoms, but it also grows well on shallow, exposed soils of mountain ridges and pure stony soils in central and eastern Oregon; provided there is enough moisture.
Bark/Stem Description
Thin, grey bark, turning brown in maturity and being smooth with resinous mounds found in youth, slight ridges on new stems. New growth has an olive-green colour, which turns grey while it ages.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Exposed buds; purple, green, or brown; globose; small to moderately large, resinous, apex round; basal scales short, broad, equilaterally triangular, slightly pubescent or glabrous, resinous, margins entire, apex pointed or slightly rounded.
Leaf Description
The Grand Fir's leaves spread in almost right angles that are approximately 3 - 5 cm long. Flat, flexible, shiny and dark green above and silvery white below. Needles at center of branch segment are longer than those near the ends of the branch and the cross section is flat, grooved with an odour of turpentine. There are 5 - 7 stomatal rows with an adaxial surface light to dark lustrous green. The apex of needle is distinctly notched.
Flower Description
Female flowers, producing cones and seeds, are short, spherical to cylindrical, and stand erect on the uppermost part of the crown. Male flowers, pollen-bearing only, are ovoid or cylindrical and hang singly from the lower side of branches below the female flowers. This is a monoecious tree having both female and male reproductive organs.
Fruit Description
The fruit is 5 - 10 cm long, cylindrical, upright, on topmost twigs and are green or brown. Paired, long winged seeds with pollen cones at pollination bluish red, purple, orange, yellow, or green. Seed cones are cylindrical, (5) 6 - 7 (12) x 3 - 3.5 cm, light green, dark blue, deep purple, or gray, sessile and apex rounded; scales ca. 2.5 cm long and wide, densely pubescent; bracts included. Seeds 6 - 8 x 3 - 4 mm, body tan; wing about 1.5 times as long as body, tan with rosy tinge. The cones shed the scales with the seeds during autumn.
Colour Description
Yellowish green and occasionally greenish-purple cones. New stems are olive-green, turning grey with age.
Texture Description
Soft and flexible.
Notable Specimens
Olympic National Park, Washington, United States of America (70.4 m tall). Grand Firs were also used by early settlers to control the rate of descent of their covered wagons on a particularly steep slope in their trek from east to west. Some of the rope-burned trees are still standing after 150 years, in Mount Hood, Oregon, United States of America.
Seed production begins at about 20 years of age and increases with age, diameter, and vigour of the tree. When the cones are ripe, the scales fall away and release the large winged seeds, leaving only the central spike. Seeds are spread by wind and rodents. Most of the seeds fall in early autumn, with over three quarters of all seeds falling before the end of October. Grand Fir seeds germinate in the spring following one overwintering period on the ground. Germination begins in early May on exposed sites and 30 days later on snow covered sites. It is almost completely germinated by July 1 on exposed sites and by August 15 on protected sites. Germination is best on mineral soil, but on seed-tree cuttings, grand fir germinates nearly as well on any other surface.