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Alphabetical List of Tree Common Names Alphabetical List of Tree Scientific Names Identification Key Mystery Tree

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grand fir (Abies grandis)

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  • Needles: About 1" long; yellow-green on top surface of needles (no white bloom on upper surface)--whitish bands on undersides. Sets of needles flattened or "V" shaped. Needles are two distinct sizes, with alternating long and short needles.
  • Fruit: Upright, cylindrical cones; 3-4" long; bracts shorter than scales. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Terminal buds round and clustered, and covered with resin. Young twigs are greenish.
  • Distribution: Extends across the Pacific Northwest from sea level to 5100 ft. (1600 m).

Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis)

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  • Needles: Green on top and white underneath; about 1" long. Top needles point forward like ski jumpers; side needles are nearly perpendicular to the twig.
  • Fruit: Large woody cones (3-6" long); cylindrical in shape; purple in color. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Buds clustered at tip of branch are usually round, purple in color, and covered with pitch.
  • Bark: Remains gray throughout its life. Resin blisters when young; scaly when older.
  • Distribution: Grows from 1100-6600 ft (350-2000 m) elevation in the Pacific Northwest on southern and western exposures.

noble fir (Abies procera)

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  • Needles: White on both top and bottom surfaces; about 1" long; shaped like a hockey stick. Massed on the upper surface of the twig. A tiny groove runs the length of the upper side.
  • Fruit: Large woody cones (4-6" long); cylindrical in shape; have distinctive bracts that look like elephant heads. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Reddish-brown. Buds clustered at the terminal end are usually round, and are over-lapped by curved needles.
  • Distribution: Occurs along the Pacific coast in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Commonly found at 3200-5600 ft. (1000-1700 m) elevation on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

California red fir (Abies magnifica)

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  • Needles: White on both top and bottom surfaces; about 1" long; shaped like a hockey stick. Massed on the upper surface of the twig. A tiny ridge runs the length of the upper side (compare with groove on noble fir).
  • Fruit: Large woody cones (6-9" long); cylindrical in shape; bracts are shorter than scales (therefore not visible). Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Reddish-brown. Buds clustered at the terminal end are usually round and not covered by resin.
  • Distribution: Occurs in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, the coastal ranges of northern California, and the high mountain slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Generally found at 5100-9000 ft. (1600-2850 m) elevation.

subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa)

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  • Needles: White lines both above and below the needle; about 1" long. Massed on the upper surface of the twig; very neat in appearance.
  • Fruit: Cylindrical woody cones about 2-4" long; purple. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Terminal buds are small, round, and clustered; covered with resin.
  • Distribution: Generally occurs at timberline in cold, humid climates in the Olympic, Cascade, and Rocky Mountains.

white fir (Abies concolor)

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  • Needles: White bloom on upper and lower surfaces; may be in distinct lines, or uniformly distributed over the entire surface. May just occur on tips of needles. Needles 1-2" long.
  • Fruit: Upright, cylindrical woody cones; 3-5" long; bracts shorter than scales. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Terminal buds are round, clustered, and slightly pitchy. Young twigs are greenish.
  • Distribution: Grows at high elevations in the mountains from southern Oregon to southern California and in the Rocky Mountains; normally found at 3200-8200 ft. (1000-2500 m).


For more information about these species, see "Trees to Know in Oregon".


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