Northwest Conifers


High-elevation Conifers

These conifers grow above 2000 feet elevation in northwest Oregon and western Washington. All of the low-elevation conifers except Sitka Spruce also grow at higher elevations.

Common High-elevation Conifers

Noble Fir – Abies procera

Noble Fir

Needles: Bent like hockey sticks

Cones: 4-6" long, upright at tree top, whiskery bracts

Bark: Gray-brown becoming furrowed

Where: Above 2000 ft. in western Oregon and Washington

Mountain Hemlock – Tsuga mertensiana

Mountain Hemlock

Needles: Short, flat, spread in all directions

Cones: 2" long, rounded scales

Bark: Gray, small deep furrows

Where: Above 4000 ft.

Has drooping top.

Pacific Silver Fir  – Abies amabilis

Pacific Silver Fir

Cones: 3-6" long, upright at treetop

Bark: Smooth, gray scaly plates

Where: Above 3000 ft. in western Oregon and Washington

Subalpine Fir – Abies lasiocarpa

Subalpine Fir

Needles: Curved upward, white lines above & below

Cones: 2-4" long, upright at tree top, purple

Bark: Smooth, gray

Where: Above 4000 ft.

Other High-elevation Conifers

Western White Pine – Pinus monticola

Western White Pine

Needles: Bundles of 5, 2-4" long

Cones: 6-10" long, curved

Bark: Dark gray scaly plates

Where: 3000-5000 ft.

Whitebark Pine – Pinus albicaulis

Whitebark Pine

Needles: Bundles of 5, 1-3" long

Cones: 2-3" long, closed when mature

Bark: Light gray, scaly

Where: At the timberline

Engelmann Spruce – Picea engelmannii

Engelmann spruce

Needles: Sharp, thin, 4-sided, all around twig

Cones: 3" long with paper-thin scales

Bark: Gray, scaly

Where: Cascades and Mts. to the east, 3000-6000 ft.

Incense Cedar – Calocedrus decurrens

Incense Cedar

Needles: Long, flat scales

Cones: 1" long, shaped like a duck's bill

Bark: Brown, deep furrows

Where: Dry areas of Cascades

Western Larch – Larix occidentalis

Western larch

Needles: Bundles of 25, 1-2" long

Cones: 1-2" long, whiskery bracts

Bark Flaky scales, furrowed

Where: East of the Cascade crest, up to 6000 ft.

Similar tree: Alpine Larch

Alaska Cedar – Callitropsis nootkatensis

Alaska Cedar

Needles: Flat, scaled, prickly

Cones: Round, 3/8"

Bark: Gray-brown, shreddy strips

Where: Above 3000 ft.

Common Juniper – Juniperus communis
Common Juniper

Needles:  Awl shaped, under 1"

Cones:  Berry-like, .3"

Bark: Brown

Where: Alpine areas growing as a low, spreading shrub

© 2012 Ken Denniston