Grand fir is a large tree that can grow to 250
feet (75 meters). It's conical form and dark green foliage contribute
to it's beauty.
Grand fir has
needles that spread out
opposite sides of the twig in flattened rows, although when growing in
direct sunlight or east of the Cascades crest they sometimes crowd to
the top of the twig. The
are flat with a grove along the top. Their color is a dark, shiny green
on top with two white
The cones sit upright on the branches near the treetop.
Like other firs, grand fir cones fall apart at maturity, dispersing the
winged seeds and leaving a cone
core spike on the branch. You won't find grand fir cones
on the ground, but you might see some of these scales. Note that the short bracts are hidden inside the cone.
The gray bark is
smooth with blisters on small branches, breaking into flat ridges and
furrows on large trees.
it grows: Grand
fir grows at lower
elevations throughout most of western Oregon and Washington, but also
grows at elevations up
to 5000 feet (1500 meters). It also grows in northern Idaho. It is the only true fir you will find
growing below 1500
feet (450 meters). It is a moderately shade-tolerant tree that thrives
areas. Grand fir is not as abundant as western
in its range, but you
can usually find it growing here and there among the other conifers,
under larger Douglas fir. Grand fir east
of the Cascades crest are sometimes described as a different variety
from those on the west side. The west side trees grow faster than those
on the east side. The needles on east side trees tend to crowd the top
of the twig even when growing in the shade. Grand fir is
more common in
the mountains of northern Idaho,
occasionally growing in pure stands.
silver fir grows
mid to higher elevations of the Cascades. The needles point forward
and upward rather than lying flat like grand fir.
fir needles often also point forward and upward when growing in the
sun, or even in the shade on the east side of the Cascades. To
add to this confusion, Pacific silver fir needles often lie flat when
growing in the shade. On mature trees, you can distinguish the trees by
looking at the bark. Unlike the grand fir's furrowed bark, Pacific
silver fir bark breaks into large scaly plates on large trees.
In the southern Cascades and Siskiyous, grand fir hybridizes
with white fir.
The hybrids take
characteristics of each species, which makes identification a
firs, grand fir is used to make plywood and paper. Lumber sold as
hemlock may be mixed with fir. Christmas tree lots often feature grand
fir. Its dark-green needles and its strong fir-like fragrance make it a
popular choice. Its stately appearance also makes it a popular choice
means "large." Other common
names: Lowland fir, white fir.