Characteristics of Red Fir Tree (Abies magnifica) in the Wild

Abies magnifica
Red fir or Silvertip fir (Abies magnifica) is a tree species native to western North America, its range into the mountains of southwestern Oregon and California. It is a high elevation tree, usually growing at an altitude of 1,400-2,700 m asl.

Two variants can be distinguished, namely:

  • Abies magnifica var. magnifica – grows from the southern part of the Cascades (Lassen Peak) to the southern part of the Sierra Nevada.
  • Abies magnifica var. shastensis – grows in the Crater Lake area of ​​Oregon, USA, to Lassen Peak in California.

Since the crown of this tree is quite fine and silver in color, it is also grown as an ornamental tree and Christmas tree.

Within its range, Red fir often forms pure stands or is the dominant tree species in mixed coniferous forests. Variant Abies magnifica var. magnifica often stands in a dense net located between the lower forests of the gray spruce (Abies concolor) and the higher forests of Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) and Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana). Dense forests generally have thinner undergrowth.


Of these pathogens, the parasite Arceuthobium abietinum ssp. magnificae has spread throughout the beautiful Red fir tree area and has infected 40 percent of California. Infected trees are susceptible to fungal diseases caused by the fungus (Cytospora abietis). As a result of the disease, the branches that are attacked by the parasite become dry, and tree growth is reduced. Weak trees, susceptible to bark beetles and other diseases.

Of the fungal diseases, the root-causing fungus (Heterobasidion annosum), which is widespread in the dense forests of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, is also important to note. Of the bark beetles, (Scolytus ventralis) caused the most deaths. As a result of this rift, trees in California die every year with a total volume of nearly 1 million m3.


Characteristics of Red Fir Leaf

Abies magnifica Leaf

The leaves are thorn-like, 2-3 cm long, flexible, below two light strips of 4-5 rows of air gaps, bluish-green to gray-blue above, with a blunt tip. Young shoots are light yellow to cream in color, covered with reddish hairs in the first few years.


Characteristics of Red Fir Fruit

Abies magnifica Fruit

Cones are round, 15-20 cm long, and 7-10 cm in diameter, purple when young, yellowish-brown, or reddish-brown when ripe. The seeds are 15×6 mm in size, the skin is dark reddish-brown, the wings are almost as long as the skin.


Characteristics of Red Fir Tree

Abies magnifica Tree

Red fir usually grows to a height of 30-40 (rarely 60 meters), with a trunk diameter of up to 2.5 meters under favorable growing conditions. This tree has a life span that can exceed 600 years.

The bark is thin and gray on young trees, thick on older trees, with deep fissures and a reddish-brown hue.

The wood is fine, light, low density, and soft, but generally more durable than other spruce woods common in North America. Red fir wood is mainly used for plywood production, pulp production, carcass production, etc.


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