Noble fir is arguably
the most attractive of the native firs because of its
symmetrical form, bluish color, and the elegant, well-groomed
appearance of its needles. It grows to 250 feet (75 meters).
easy to identify noble fir by looking at the underside of a twig. The
needles are shaped like hockey sticks, and sweep away
the twig uniformly, giving them a combed appearance. The needles are
blue-green with bands of white on each side. The hockey stick shape is unique among the firs of northwest Oregon and
Washington. Red fir,
which grows in the mountains of California, has
similar looking needles.
The cones sit
upright on the branch near the tree top, like other firs. But noble fir
cones have distinctive
bracts that protrude beyond the scales. Since the cones fall apart at
maturity, you are not likely to find any under the tree.
may be able to find some of the
scales with their unique bracts on the ground.
and bract from a noble fir cone
gray and smooth with resin blisters. Older bark breaks into furrows
with flat, narrow ridges.
it grows: Noble fir
grows at elevations above
2000 feet (600 meters) in the Coast Range and the Cascades. Although
don’t usually grow in pure stands, you can find large numbers
on Saddle Mountain near Seaside, and at the top of Larch Mountain and
Nesmith Point in the
The wood is
valued for lumber due to its strength and fine grain. It has been used
in airplanes and ladders because it is strong and light. Noble
lumber was once sold as Oregon larch. Since fir wood
had little commercial value as lumber, noble fir was marketed as the
more highly prized larch. Several peaks called Larch Mountain are named
after this tree. Noble fir is also a popular Christmas tree and
often planted as an ornamental.
Douglas named it Abies
he found it
growing in the Columbia Gorge in 1825. It's now called Abies procera. Procera
comes from the Latin procerus,
which means "tall." It's a fitting
name, since it is the tallest of the firs, sometimes growing to 260
feet. Other common names: Red fir and white fir.