Subalpine Fir

(Abies lasiocarpa)

Rehabilitation and conservation
Subalpine fir is a forest pioneer on severe and disturbed sites. By providing cover, it assists in rehabilitating the landscape and protecting watersheds. Subalpine fir grows in forests that occupy the highest water-yield areas in much of the western United States, and are therefore highly significant in water management and conservation.

Subalpine fir is a middle- to upper-elevation mountain conifer. It generally occupies sites with a short growing season caused by cold winters, cool summers, frequent summer frosts and heavy snowpack.

Subalpine fir has a very distinctive crown that is slender and spire-like. The upper several feet of the crown may have a diameter of less than 1 foot. The branches of this tree persist on the trunk right to the ground. This tree seldom exceeds 90 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter at maturity.

Subalpine-fir-dominated stands generally do provide cover for large and small wildlife species. Its seeds are eaten by several species of small mammals and birds.

Subalpine fir grows in the coolest and wettest forests. Temperatures range from below -50°F in the winter to more than 90°F in the summer. Although widely distributed, subalpine fir grows within a narrow range of mean temperatures.

Tree growth and stand development are best on the deeper soils associated with glacial deposits or Pleistocene lake beds. On steep slopes where soils are shallowest, stands are open and tree growth poor. On moderate to gentle slopes and flat ground where water does not collect, stands are closed with no understory or herbaceous vegetation.

The tree's populations have been affected most by the balsam woolly aphid, which defoliates and kills subalpine firs. The insect puts a sucking tube into the bark to obtain food and at the same time injects a toxin that kills trees under heavy attack.


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

twitter youtube facebook linkedin

Related Websites