Plant of the month. January 2016 CONCOLOR WHITE FIR

Abies concolor or White Fir is a beautiful, tall, slender, evergreen species planted frequently along the Front Range of Colorado. Preferring slightly wetter conditions than most Pine and Spruce species, it does less well with the minimal irrigation the farther east one goes onto the plains. However, it will thrive in the slightly wetter environment in any Boulder Colorado landscape, since Boulder is tucked into the foothills and benefits from afternoon shade. If given some protection and supplemental irrigation, it can be a beautiful anchor species in any landscape.

Native to North American western mountain ranges, mostly California, and Oregon, it is a giant of a tree in the natural environment, growing sometimes up to 150’ tall. In residential landscapes, it will mostly top out no more than 80’, with a 20-30’ width. It will also hold it’s lower branches very well, as opposed to Spruce which may tend to lose lower branches as the tree matures (75 years or more). When young, it is also a little narrower than Spruce which can make for a better candidate in smaller residential yards than the Spruce.

Distinctive gray/green needles are soft to the touch making for an ideal Christmas tree. It is also soft to brush up against in the back yard landscape when kids are playing nearby. Try digging a ball out of a Colorado Spruce….ouch!


The species is tolerant of our clay and often homogenized subdivision soils, but will do better with good soil amendments, as do most plants that are installed in Colorado landscapes. They can be used as good windbreaks, mixed in with other evergreen trees for diversity and to provide a different color and texture to the scene. They retain a very pyramidal shape, more than most Pine and some Spruce species, so their use as a formal anchor in a front yard is appropriate and stunning.

Find a place for evergreen trees in your landscape and use Concolor White Fir for that diversity of color and texture. Mix them with other evergreens for great winter interest. Plant one or a few this coming spring…. You won’t be disappointed!