Content Detail

White fir is a hardy, ornamental, native North American evergreen. Its attractive, blue-green needles curve outward and upward on branches and, when crushed, emit a lemon scent. This choice plant tolerates a wide range of conditions, including drought, heat and cold temperatures. 

  • Family (English) Pine
  • Family (botanic) Pinaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 30-50 feet
  • Mature width 15-20 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Browsers, Game birds, Nesting birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

White fir is found in mountainous areas in the southwestern United States.

Bark color and texture: 

The bark is gray and relatively smooth on young trees. It becomes irregularly furrowed into broad flat ridges on older trees.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color:

The evergreen needles are flat and attached singly to the stems. They are blue-green, 2 inches long, and curve outward and upward on the branches. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

The flowers are inconspicuous. The male pollen cones are red to red-purple while the female flower cones are rose-red and found in the upper portion of the tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The cones are erect, cylindrical and 4 to 5 inches long. Their color is pale green, turning purplish as they mature.

Plant care:

Do not plant white fir in heavy clay soil. Fir trees need very little pruning, but if pruning is needed, do it in spring.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

White fir has no serious problems. It is tolerant of heat as well as cold temperatures.

Blue Cloak white fir: (Abies concolor ‘Blue Cloak’): 

This cultivar has powder-blue needles that hang down.

Candicans white fir (Abies concolor ‘Candicans’):

This is a cultivar with intensely silver-blue needles.

Glenmore white fir: (Abies concolor ‘Glenmore’):

A more compact tree (30 feet high) with longer, blue-gray needles.

Wintergold white fir: (Abies concolor ‘Wintergold’): 

The needles of this cultivar are yellow in winter and spring, turning dark green in summer.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift