Subalpine fir

(Abies lasiocarpa arizonica)



Abies lasiocarpa, the subalpine fir or Rocky Mountain fir, is a western North American fir tree. It is a medium-sized evergreen conifer growing to 20 metres (66 ft) tall, exceptionally to 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) across, and a very narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth, gray, and with resin blisters, becoming rough and fissured or scaly on old trees. The leaves are flat and needle-like, 1.5–3 cm (5⁄8–1+1⁄8 in) long, glaucous green above with a broad stripe of stomata, and two blue-white stomatal bands below; the fresh leaf scars are reddish. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but with the leaf bases twisted to be arranged to the sides of and above the shoot, with few or none below the shoot. The cones are erect, 6–12 cm (2+1⁄4–4+3⁄4 in) long, dark blackish-purple with fine yellow-brown pubescence, ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in early fall. Abies lasiocarpa is native to the mountains of Yukon, British Columbia and western Alberta in Western Canada; and to southeastern Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, northeastern Nevada, and the Trinity Alps of the Klamath Mountains in northwestern California in the Western United States. The wood is used for general structural purposes and paper manufacture. It is also a popular Christmas tree. It is a popular ornamental tree for parks and large gardens, grown for its strongly glaucous-blue foliage. The cultivar Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica 'Compacta' is suitable for smaller gardens, growing as a shrub to 4 m (13 ft) tall by 1.5 m (4.9 ft) broad. In the UK It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. Some Plateau Indian tribes drank or washed in a subalpine fir boil for purification or to make their hair grow. The bark is browsed by game animals and its leaves are eaten by grouse. Songbirds, Richardson's grouse, Cascade pine squirrels, and other mammals consume the seeds.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Pinopsida
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