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 FirNoble Fir – Abies procera

Needles: Bent like hockey sticks

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

Bark: Gray-brown, becoming furrowed

Where: Above 2000 ft.


Mountain HemlockMountain Hemlock
 – Tsuga mertensiana

Needles: Short, flat, spread in all

Cones: 2" long, rounded scales

Bark: Gray, small deep furrows

Where: 4000 ft. to the timberline

Has drooping top.


Pacific Silver FirPacific Silver Fir
 – Abies amabilis

Needles: Point up & forward, white lines below

Cones: 3-6" long, upright at treetop

Bark: Smooth, gray scaly plates

Where: Above 3000 ft.


Subalpine FirSubalpine Fir
 – Abies lasiocarpa

Needles: Curved upward, white lines above & below

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

Bark: Smooth, gray

Where: 4000 ft. to the timberline


Other High-elevation Conifers

Western White PineWestern White Pine
 – Pinus monticola

Needles: Bundles of 5, 2-4" long

Cones: 6-10" long, curved

Bark: Dark gray scaly plates

Where: 3000-5000 ft.


Whitebark PineWhitebark Pine
 – Pinus albicaulis

Needles: Bundles of 5, 1-3" long

Cones: 2-3" long, closed when mature

Bark: Light gray, scaly

Where: At the timberline


Engelmann spruceEngelmann Spruce
 – Picea engelmannii

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 CedarIncense Cedar
 – Calocedrus decurrens

Needles: Long, flat scales

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

Bark: Brown, deep furrows

Where: Dry areas of Cascades


Western larchWestern Larch
 – Larix occidentalis

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 CedarAlaska Cedar
 – Callitropsis nootkatensis

Needles: Flat, scaled, prickly

Cones: Round, 3/8"

Bark: Gray-brown, shreddy strips

Where: Above 3000 ft.


See also: Common JuniperJuniperus communis – a low spreading shrub.

© 2012 Ken Denniston