Noble fir christmas trees

Noble Fir Information: Caring For Noble Firs In Landscapes

Noble firs (Abies procera) are extremely attractive evergreen trees and the largest native firs in America. You can recognize noble firs by their unique cones that sit upright on the top of the branches. Planting a noble fir isn’t difficult in the correct hardiness zones. Read on for more noble fir information and tips on caring for noble firs.

Noble Fir Information

Noble firs are tall, narrow evergreens with horizontal branches. According to noble fir information, they are popular Christmas trees and offer that lovely scent. But only young noble firs are appropriate as holiday trees. Mature noble firs in landscapes can grow to 200 feet with a trunk diameter of 6 feet.

If you start noble fir growing, you’ll see that these trees have flat needles. Their cones can get between 6 and 9 inches long. Instead of hanging down, noble fir cones perch on branches, looking a bit like candles on old-fashioned holiday trees.

Noble firs in landscapes can live a long time. They are pioneer trees, growing in quickly after a forest fire clears an area. The wood is strong and of high quality.

Noble Fir Growing

If you want to include a noble fir in the landscape, you need to know that these trees do best in cool climates. Noble fir growing is limited to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 and 6. Planting a noble fir tree works better if you live between 1,000 and 5,000 feet in elevation. Noble fir growing at lower altitudes can get root rot.

Those interested in noble fir growing need to find a proper site too. Locate a sunny area with cool, moist, acidic soil. Be sure the tree gets at least four hours a day of sunshine. Look for somewhere with shelter from the wind as well. Noble firs in landscapes last longer and look better if they are not buffeted regularly by strong winds.

Caring for noble firs is not difficult. Once you plant a seed or a young seedling in an appropriate site, simply be sure that it gets enough water while its root system is developing. This native tree needs no fertilizer or special care.

A lot of information swirls around the issue of how to purchase and preserve a Christmas tree once you get it home, some of it misleading. Landgren helps you get it right with answers to the most pressing questions.

Q: How do I know a tree is fresh when I purchase it?

A: Choose a tree that looks green and healthy with needles that snap like a fresh carrot. Shake it a few times to get rid of old needles. When you’re home, place the tree in water if you do not plan to put it up immediately. Choose a large, water-filled stand to display the tree indoors. Check the water level daily; trees will be very thirsty the first few days inside a heated home.

Q: Do I need to re-cut the stem after I get my tree home?

A: Yes, if more than 24 hours has elapsed since the stem was last cut. The fresh cut helps water uptake and the sooner you can get the tree into water, the fresher it will be.

Q: Do I need to cut 2 inches off the tree base for it to take up water in the stand?

A: No, cutting 1/2-inch slice off the base is plenty for water uptake. However, clearing the ceiling is another question.

Q: Do I need to cut the base of the trees at an angle, drill holes in the base or install plastic tubes so the tree can get water?

A: No. Water begins the path up the tree via microscopic tubes called “tracheids” in the wood just beneath the bark. The wood near the outer part of the stem conducts water efficiently and becomes less so toward the center. Simply cut the stem perpendicular to the trunk to maximize the area exposed to the water. Complicated cuts, drill holes or I.V. tubes do not help.

Q: Do I need to add something to the water to help the tree stay fresher?

A: People have added all kinds of things to water, including vodka, 7-Up, bleach, aspirin and sugar. However, clean, cold water is all that is needed. Some additives actually can cause the tree to shed needles or dry out more rapidly.

Q: Will any tree stand work, as long as it holds the tree up?

A: No. A stand should hold a quart of water for every inch of stem diameter. A tree with a 6-inch stem diameter will need a stand that holds a gallon and a half of water. Very few stands have the capacity for today’s large trees. Consider purchasing a new stand, or a smaller tree, if the water capacity is not adequate.

Q: If my decorated tree runs out of water, do I need to take it down and re-cut the base?

A: No. If you refill the water stand within 24 hours of going dry, most trees (Douglas fir, noble, Nordmann, Fraser) should re-hydrate just fine. For grand fir, 12 hours may be the limit.

Of course, it’s best if the tree does not run out of water, so check it every day, especially the first few days. Your pets may be helping themselves to the water, too. If your tree becomes dry and brittle, it may be time to take it down.
— Kym Pokorny

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Noble Fir – Tree Guide

Amongst all the Christmas paraphernalia we need to consider, the Christmas tree is one of the most important. Native toNorth America, the Noble Fir (Abies Procera) is a truly beautiful choice. Somewhat unusually, it is often grown in containers for the commercial Christmas tree trade, as it has very deep roots. This does mean however that it is available in a range of sizes and you can choose the most appropriate for your home.

The Noble Fir has many features to recommend it, one being its colour. The needles show a variety of colours from a very silvery blue, to deep green and blue green and through to silver. The needles curve slightly upwards from the branches, which make a lovely shape and shows off the colours to best advantage.

The branches are dense which offers lots of hanging space. They are also very strong and you can hang quite heavy ornaments without the branches dropping or bending. This coupled with the symmetry of the branches makes it an ideal tree to decorate easily and get a professional effect. If you need a tree with which to make a big impact, in an office for example or in a big room, this is an ideal choice.

The dense branches also grow right to the bottom and as they make superb wreaths, you can trim your tree and make another important Christmas decoration your very own wreath, a good money saving tip!

In addition to all this, the tree is also very fragrant, always a lovely attribute for a Christmas tree indoors.

Whether you buy it as a cut tree or container grown, you need to care for your Noble Fir well, keeping it well watered and away from direct heat, but if you buy it as a container grown tree it will give you many years of pleasure, making it good value too.

Like all the other Christmas things you need to think of, which tree you choose is always personal, dictated by size, preference for shape and of course cost, but the Noble Fir is well worth consideration.

Grafting under stock

Abies balsamea Deodara Larix deciduas Picea pungens
Pinus strobiformis Pinus strobes Pinus sylvestris
Psuedotsuga menziesii Thuga orientalis Picea abies Norway

Christmas Tree Seedlings

NOBLE FIR: This native of the high elevations of the Oregon and Washington Cascades has become the most popular tree in the west coast Christmas tree market. It is not easy to grow because of its exacting requirements. It requires deep well drained soil and generally doesn’t produce salable trees on poorly drained soils or on the hot valley floor. The seedlings we grow are from our selected seed sources. It’s strong branches can hold heavy ornaments and needles are retained a long time in the home if the tree is kept watered.

TURKISH FIR: We introduced this native of Turkey to the Christmas tree business 40 years ago and it has proven to be a real winner. It’s strong branches can hold heavy ornaments and needle retention in the home is excellent if the tree is kept in a water stand. Turkish fir is native to northern Turkey and is now being grown for Christmas trees in the US. This tree has two-tone needles that have a dark silvery-green underside, which is very attractive and has excellent keepability. They are becoming popular with consumers.
Turkish fir are sometimes confused with Nordman fir but is a very different species and quite different. The main difference is that the needles are flatter on the stem. Turkish needles radiate out more from the stem.

A tree farmer can grow this tree successfully in soils that will not grow good Noble, but can be sold for a Noble price.

GRAND FIR: Many people like this tree because of its shiny green needles and woodsy scent. It will grow on moist sites but does poorly on wet heavy soils. We grow seedlings both from Willamette Valley and northern Idaho seed sources.

DOUGLAS-FIR: Douglas-fir is grown by growers in valley soils where noble is not happy. It is easier to shear and produce than other species and makes a good basic Christmas tree. Wild collected seed will make a decent tree but in recent years seed from orchards, specifically for Christmas tree production, has become available on a limited basis and will improve the average quality of a plantation.

Forest Seedling

DOUGLAS-FIR: This is the most common tree west of the Cascades and is also found in certain areas east of the Cascades. Demand for Douglas-fir logs is generally good because of the high quality lumber and plywood that can be made from them. It grows at elevations from sea level to over 4500 ft. It will grow on a wide variety of sites but the volume of growth is much higher on the better sites with deep well drained soils. It does poorly on wet heavy soils and while it will survive on shallow dry sites the growth rate is slow. For good growth it requires full sunlight. Trees planted in shade if they live at all, will make unacceptably slow growth.

WESTERN REDCEDAR: Logs of this species bring a good price on the log market because the lumber is durable, easy to work with and attractive. It is commonly found as an understory tree in Douglas-fir dominated forests and along streams. Because it is shade tolerant it can be planted under the shade of larger trees and will grow at a reasonable rate under these conditions. However it will grow much faster out in the open. It prefers moist sites but will not do well on wet heavy soils. It is a good tree to plant where laminated root rot has killed the Douglas-fir because it is somewhat tolerant to the rot.

GRAND FIR : This is another shade tolerant tree and is often found associated with western redcedar and Western Hemlock and has similar growing condition requirements but can also be found in dry locations. On good sites it can grow very rapidly and has good form. The wood decays very quickly. The logs bring considerably less that Douglas-fir on the log market.

PONDEROSA PINE (Willamette valley strain): This tree is native to the Willamette valley and the interior valleys of western Washington. In appearance it is similar to the Ponderosa pine found throughout the area east of the cascades, southwestern Oregon and California. However it is adapted the Willamette valley and strains from elsewhere do poorly here. It is unique in that it will do well both on heavy poorly drained soils and dry rocky slopes. It cannot compete with Douglas-fir on good sites between these two extremes. It cannot grow in the shade and must have full sunlight. It can be used in root rot infested areas if the opening is large enough to provide sufficient light for the pine to grow.

INCENSE CEDAR: This tree is commonly found on dry sites such as rocky south slopes. The wood is not quite as durable as western redcedar and does not bring quite as high a price on the log market. It is probably not as tolerant to shade as the western redcedar but is a good tree to plant on harsh sites.

Noble Fir

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You are here: Nurserymen > Evergreen Plug Seedlings > Fraser Fir Plug Seedlings

Fraser Fir plug seedlings, approx 3-5″ tall Fraser Fir will develop all of the classic looks of a Christmas tree at maturity, featuring short, soft, dark-green needles with silver undersides. It is a beautiful ornamental, and is widely considered the finest Christmas tree in North America (and most commonly misspelled: Frazer Fir, Frasier Fir, Fraser Fur, Frazier Fir, etc.). Fraser Fir plug seedlings are almost always the first species to sell out year after year.

FOR SALE, shipping in Spring 2020

This species of true Fir will grow to a maximum height of 50 feet , and will flourish in fertile, rich & sandy soils which are slightly acidic. They must have good drainage to prevent phytophthora root rot and other crown rot diseases.

Fraser Fir are tolerant of shade, but tend to prefer full sun. A good rule of thumb is to plant them from Tennessee north, but you can also plant Fraser Fir farther south if in areas of higher elevation.

Fraser Fir are so similar to Balsam Fir plug seedlings that scientists believe that not too long ago they were one and the same…”not too long ago”, as in tens of thousands of years ago.

Watch how to plant evergreen seedling plugs faster and with less effort than any other type of “bare root” evergreen tree. With just a cordless drill, a garden cart or wheelbarrow, a 5 gallon bucket of water, and any old/dull/rusty 1 inch drill bit you have lying around, you can realistically plant one plug seedling per minute. Your back will thank us later 🙂

Fraser Fir plug seedlings: characteristics and info

• prefers hardiness zones 4-7
• prefers full sun to partial shade
• mature height and spread: up to 50 ft high , 20 ft spread
• prefers slightly acidic soils, rich well draining soils, sandy soils, avoid wet or swampy soils
• Missouri Botanical Garden info on Abies fraseri
• Fraser Fir Sizes and Availability:
— Fraser Fir seedlings
— Fraser Fir transplants
— Fraser Fir plug seedlings
— Fraser Fir plug transplants
— Fraser Fir conservation grade plug transplants
• Comparable alternative species: Balsam Fir, Canaan Fir, Concolor Fir, and Douglas Fir. Confused about species? Check out our Evergreen Tree Buyers Guide

Plug seedlings are shipped in bundles, but we offer individual plastic packaging, eco-friendly packaging, cotton gift bag packaging and custom laser cut pendants for all sizes of plug seedlings and plug transplants, sold separately in matching quantities.

Noble fir (Abies procera), also known as red fir or larch, is indeed noble, tallest of the true fir genus Abies. Its generic name, Abies, means rising-one, from the ancient Latin abeo, meaning tall tree or ship. The species name, procera, means very tall or long. Its well-known synonym, A. nobilis, means a famous, grand, notable, or noble tall tree. David Douglas, who first collected the noble fir in 1825 in the high mountains near the Cascades of the ColumbiaRiver, bestowed this name on his discovery. Unfortunately, the botanical rules of nomenclature required a name change when it was discovered that Abies nobilis had already been used for a different tree.

The timber industry called noble fir “larches” because of an early bias against true firs. This explains why two mountains—one in Oregon, the other in Washington State—both covered with noble fir, are named Larch Mountain.

Noble fir grows at higher elevations of the Coast Mountains, from the Willapa Hills of Washington to Mary’s Peak near Corvallis. It is abundant in the Cascades from Stevens Pass in Washington south to McKenzie Pass in the Oregon Cascades. South of McKenzie Pass and into the Klamath Mountains, identity becomes complicated by hybridization with California red fir (Abies magnifica). Hybrids are referred to as Abies magnifica variety shastensis or A. procera x magnifica (see Shasta fir entry).

Noble fir grows at middle to high elevations under cool, moist conditions. It is relatively shade intolerant and cannot tolerate fire. At higher elevations in the southern part of its range, where summers are hotter and drier, hybrid individuals with thicker, more fire-resistant bark are found.

The Oregon State champion, 205 feet tall and 6 feet 4.39 inches in diameter, grows in the Willamette National Forest in Linn County. The world champion, at Yellow Jacket Creek in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State, was 278 feet tall and 9 feet 6 inches in diameter. After losing 27 feet of its top to wind, it remains champion because of its bulk. The largest noble firs are in the southern Washington Cascade Mountains.

People have found a variety of uses for Noble fir. Paiutes traditionally used its branches and needles as a cold remedy. Noble fir is a desirable timber tree for its strong, lightweight wood and, like Sitka spruce, was used to build ladders and in the construction of World War II fighter planes because of its high weight/strength ratio. Other uses include siding, paneling, window sashes, doors, and paper. Noble fir makes up 25 to 30 percent of Christmas trees grown in the Pacific Northwest. It is popular because of its symmetrical appearance, stiff branches, and longevity as a cut tree.

Noble Fir: The Long Lived Pioneer

Abies procera

The Noble fir is no stranger to the mountains. A native to the Cascade and Coastal ranges of the northwest, this subalpine beauty is a tree of resilience and strength. It is the largest native fir in North America, and often comes aggressively after a disturbance, such as a fire. Its name comes from the Latin Abies nobilis, the scientific name is had before it was discovered that the name was already taken by another species. It’s also commonly called red fir, white fir and larch. Whichever name you choose to call the Noble fir, the quality of this tree is hard to ignore.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding a Noble fir to your yard.

Environmental Conditions:

  • Grows well in deep, moist, cool, well-drained, acidic soil. Tolerates thin and rocky soils with good moisture (hardiness zones 5-6).
  • Slow to medium growing tree, growing one to two feet a year and reaching 50-100 feet at maturity.
  • Does well in full and partial sun, at least four hours of direct sun every day.

Physical Attributes:

  • Has bluish green needles with white lines, offering green foliage year-round.
  • Produces purplish-brown cylindrical cones with papery green bracts.
  • Develops a thin, smooth, gray brown bark that changes to brownish-gray plates as it ages.
  • Bonus: Is a popular Christmas tree because of its stiff branches and excellent greenery.

Tag us in a photo with your Noble fir!

Noble fir

Introduced into Britain in 1830, the noble fir – or Abies procera – is a native of the forests of Washington and Oregon where it grows to a great height. Just like the Douglas fir, this species was introduced by David Douglas.

Regarded as a decorative species on account of its striking blue-grey foliage and steady growth, it is often used in Europe for making wreaths. In Denmark it’s often the preferred species for Christmas trees.

Facts and stats

  • Height: This handsome conifer can reach 45 metres in height.
  • Leaves: It has long (25 mm) upswept bluish-grey needles at right angles to the twig.
  • Seeds: Its seeds are large upright cones with downturned feathery bracts.
  • Bark: The noble fir has pale grey to purplish, smooth bark.
  • Native to: Western North America.
  • Uses: The noble fir has been planted on a very limited scale in wetter, western parts of Britain. Its timber is hard and close-grained and often used for interior joinery.

Famous noble firs in Scotland

Diana’s Grove noble fir

Head to Diana’s Grove in the grounds of Blair Castle in Perthshire, for a stunning example of this species. Nestled amongst the many other conifers stands an impressive 50 metre tall noble fir that measures almost four metres across its base.

Congratulations on your new seedling! If you’ve found your way to this page, it’s likely because you saw us at a recent event where we were giving away seedlings from our information booth. Thanks for stopping by. Below you’ll find information about how to properly plant and care for your seedling.

Noble firs make excellent Christmas trees (if you’re into that). They’re beautifully symmetrical with stiff branches, ideal for hanging ornaments, bluish-green needles appear silver (festive!) and they keep for a long time after harvest.

Quick facts about noble fir trees:

  • Abies procera is the scientific name for noble fir.
  • At full size, noble firs reach heights of 140 to 200 feet with branches as wide as 30 feet and trunks as big as 5 feet around.
  • Noble fir trees grow quickly—2 to 3 feet per year.
  • Evergreen conifers believed to originate from the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of northwest California and western Oregon.

Caring for your noble fir seedling:

  • Noble fir trees are typically low maintenance and easy to grow.
  • You can plant your seedling in the ground or in a container (but because noble firs are fast growing, unless you plan to bonsai the tree, you’ll need to transfer it to the ground after a year or two).

  • Wherever you plant your seedling make sure it gets plenty of light, but not too much heat.
  • Water sparingly as noble fir trees are susceptible to root rot if their soil is kept too wet. Keep medium moist, but not wet.
  • Add amendment (e.g. shredded bark) to the soil when planting. This will improve the soil’s drainage, as well as provide a source of nutrients for your tree.
  • Nobel firs are hardy (up to zone 4), but if your tree is in an exposed location, or you live in a colder area, apply a thick mulch around the root area to protect your tree during the winter months.

Quick facts about Douglas-fir trees:

Pyramid shape and dense evergreen foliage make young Douglas-firs popular Christmas trees. Older trees are harvested for lumber or plywood. These native North American conifers are also great for large landscapes and forest planting.

  • Pseudotsuga menziesii is the scientific name for Douglas-fir (in B.C. we have coastal and interior species).
  • The name Douglas-fir comes from David Douglas, the Scottish botanist who introduced many of British Columbia’s native conifers to Europe.
  • Douglas-firs have a smooth, grey-brown bark that grows thick with age and develops deep grooves, with dark reddish-brown ridges.
  • Douglas-fir trees are fast growing and can reach anywhere from 100 to 300 feet tall, with a trunk that measures 3 to 4 feet across.

Caring for your Douglas-fir seedling:

  • Douglas-fir is one of the easiest trees to plant, and requires almost no care once established.
  • If you’re going to grow your tree for years and years to come, allow a minimum clearance of 20 to 30 feet from the house, fences, sidewalks, driveways, and other structures.
  • Dig a hole where you want to plant the Douglas-fir. Make the hole about 6 inches wider in diameter than the root ball or pot, and about 3 inches deeper.
  • Douglas-fir seedlings prefer partial shade, but larger trees want full sun and open space.
  • While Douglas-fir trees tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, they do best in deep, moist, sandy loams and poorest on gravelly soils.
  • A good rule of thumb is to keep your Douglas-fir evenly moist, but not wet. Remember: Douglas-firs do not tolerate drought conditions.

Quick facts about western red cedar trees:

The western red cedar is British Columbia’s official tree! Wood from these evergreen trees is commonly used for siding, interior paneling, outdoor furniture, decking and fencing.

  • Thuja plicata is the scientific name for western red cedar (British Columbia’s official tree!)
  • Western red cedar makes up approximately 8% of British Columbia’s total growing stock, and is one of the most commercially valuable species.
  • These evergreen coniferous trees can grow as tall as 60 meters with a diameter of 2.5 meters.
  • Western red cedars rarely grown in pure stands and often mix with Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, black cottonwood and red alder.

Caring for your western red cedar seedling:

  • Western red cedars thrive in a variety of conditions, but grow best in moist to wet soils, with lots of nutrients.

  • If you’re planting more than one western red cedar be sure to space the trees 20 to 30 feet apart.
  • Western red cedar prefer full sun (six or more hours of continuous light per day), but will tolerate partial shade.
  • Dig a hole where you want to plant your western red cedar. Make the hole about twice as wide as the root ball and at least as deep.
  • Center the western red cedar in the planting hole and fill with soil.
  • Water well and mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark to improve soil nutrients.

A small noble fir seedling in the middle of the pumice plain on the northeast section of Mount Saint Helens. The nearest mature noble fir to this tree is more than 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) away. Photo: DNR

Noble fir is a popular ornamental tree throughout the Pacific Northwest and many consider it the premiere holiday tree. The firs you might see at Christmas tree lots typically come from tree farms, but this tree will grow quite large naturally throughout the southern Cascade Mountains of western Washington.

While the noble doesn’t produce a large number of cones, the seeds within those cones are large — large enough to provide young sprout with nutrients for up to a year while its roots try to find a favorable spot to grow. As a result, noble firs can sprout and grow well in areas with deep winter snowpacks that would crush or smother the smaller seedlings of other species such as Douglas fir.

You wouldn’t expect such large seeds to spread very far from their origin tree, but the windy, icy conditions at high-elevations can allow noble fir seeds to slip, slide and blow around great distances — sometimes a few miles as shown in our photo of a seedling that took root more than three miles from the nearest mature noble fir.

Interesting facts like this and more can be found in DNR’s guides for identifying old trees and forests in Washington: Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington and Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington, both written by Robert Van Pelt, PhD. .

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