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Woody > Abies > Abies magnifica > Abies magnifica

Abies magnifica

California Red Fir, Californian Red Fir, Shasta Red Fir, Silver-ip Fir

Origin:  North America in the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains.
Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
3 - 8
Canadian Hardiness Zone
4 - 9
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
-32 to -7
Temperature (°F)
- 25 to 15
61 m
3 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
A very tall, gangly looking tree, acquiring a more columnar form as it matures over time. Branching on this species is short and protruding out of the main trunk horizontally. As the tree becomes older with time, the top of the tree takes on a more mounded shape.
Woodland gardens and naturalized planting areas.
Prefers a gravelly loam soil which is cool, moist and acidic in full sun.
The tree has horizontal branches that weep downwards slightly while the crown is narrow and comes to a slightly rounded top on mature specimens.
ID Characteristic
Surrounding the terminal bud are the shortest needles that indicate the annual growth. Needles are singularly spaced pointing upwards.
Broom rust, annosus root rot, yellow cap fungus, Indian paint fungus, bark beetles, cut worms, chalcid wasp, cone maggots and cone moths. Those that cause occasional damage are: dwarf mistletoe, needle miner, gophers, meadow voles, squirrels, and other small rodents.
Cool and moist mountainous regions at an altitude of 1,400 to 1,830 m.
Bark/Stem Description
The bark when young is thin and greyish in colour however it becomes thicker as it matures. Mature bark becomes deeply divided with round ridges, looking like broad reddish plates.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
The buds are about 7 - 10 mm long and are ovoid in shape and acute. The buds have bright chestnut brown scales with prominent midribs.
Leaf Description
The needles are rounded and pointed at the tip and are 2 - 3.7 cm long by 2 mm wide. The needles emerge from the branch and protrude upwards. Needles are quite pale and glaucous in the first season then turn a blue-green colour as they mature.
Flower Description
The flowers are monoecious. Males are purple to a dark red colour and reside on the underside of the branches. Females have a reddish-brown colour and are born upright close to the top of the crown.
Fruit Description
Cones are 15 - 20 cm long and 7 - 10 cm wide. The cones sit upright on the branches. The juvenile cones are purplish in colour and turn brown as they mature. Seeds are 15 mm long and are 6 mm wide and a dark reddish-brown with long reddish wings as long as the seed body.
Colour Description
The new needles have a silvery-glaucous colour whereas the older needles are dark greenish blue. There is a whitish-blue bloom which is a wax coating on the surface of the needles. The back of the needle displays white strips along the ridges and centre of the needle.
Texture Description
The base of the tree is quite thick. The bark has a ridged and coarse texture which it retains year round: the crown appears gangly.
Notable Specimens
San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, United States of America.
Stratify the seed for 3 months at a temperature of -1?C; doing so will improve the chances of germination.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
The wood may be burned and for fuel. Lumber is manufactured to be formed into cases and pallets etc. and it is also used in the production of paper. The tree itself is also used for Christmas trees. In early pioneer history the branches and wood were used to make beds.
Sargent, C. S. (1965). Manual of the Trees of North America (Vol. 1, pp. 58-59). New York: Dover Publication. Sibley, D. A. (2009). The Sibley Guide to Trees (p. 55). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.