WSU Clark County Extension

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Subalpine Fir

Scientific name: Abies lasiocarpa

Type:Coniferous trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:20 ft
Width:15 ft
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description In the Pacific Northwest Sub-Alpine Fir is transplanted from the high altitude forest into the rock garden to form a simulated sub-alpine setting.

As a Northwest native, it grows from Alaska to the southern regions of Oregon as a narrow, steeple shaped forest conifer at higher elevations. In the mountains it can grow to a height of up to 90’, with only 10’ of width. However when small trees are transplanted into the lower elevation garden they may never exceed 20’ in height, but spread to 15’ in width.

Needles are 1’ long and have blunt tips. They are flattened and flexible. Even though the leaves arise from twigs on all sides (spirally arranged), they all tend to grow upward. As for color they are grayish-green to light bluish-green.

Cones are 2” to 4” long, cylindrical, slender and borne upright on the twig (frequently in clusters). When fully ripe they are purple in color. Afterwards, as they age, the cone scales break apart.

Subalpine fir does very well as a middle-to-upper elevation mountain conifer. It generally occupies sites with a short growing season caused by cold winters, cool summers, frequent summer frosts and heavy snowpack. This is largely used as a high-altitude species, most commonly near the timberline. Throughout its range it shows a preference for cool northern slopes in rainier areas.

To do well in a sea-level garden, one should plant Subalpine Fir where it has protection against harsh sunlight. It will survive periods of drought.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
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