Red Fir grows throughout the Sierras of California. The Red Fir that grows in Oregon is a hybrid of Red Fir and Noble Fir. It grows in the southern Cascades and Siskiyous, and is called Shasta Red Fir, Abies magnifica x procera.* An easy place to find Shasta Red Fir is on the rim of Crater Lake.
Needles: Shasta Red Fir has needles that are like Noble Fir, shaped like hockey sticks. The needles are blue-green with white lines on upper and lower surfaces. Unlike the flat needles of Noble Fir, Shasta Red Fir needles are square, which allows you to roll a needle between your fingers.
Cones: The cones sit upright on the branch like other firs. The cones fall apart at maturity, leaving a cone core spike on the branch. Shasta Red Fir cones are larger than Noble Fir cones and have whiskery bracts that protrude beyond the scales, but the bracts are shorter than those of Noble Fir. By contrast, the bracts do not protrude at all from Red Fir cones.
Bark: The bark is smooth and brown becoming gray and broken by narrow furrows on larger trees.
Names: Shasta Red Fir is named after Mt. Shasta. Other names: Shasta Fir.
*The Gymnosperm Database and Oregon Flora Project list these as Abies magnifica x procera.
© 2012 Ken Denniston