I’m always happy to see plants that I am familiar with through my work growing in their natural habitat so I was very excited when I encountered Abies procera growing in Idaho along the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail in 2011. They are a magnificient evergreen, tall and stately with soft, blue green needles. Millions of families will be dragging live evergreens through their homes and erecting them in their living rooms over the next few weeks. Our family has always had the Noble Fir, Abies procera, as our Christmas tree. Noble Fir looks even better in my living room as the centrepiece of our Christmas celebrations!
Abies procera is found mostly in the subalpine areas of the Cascade and Coast Mountains of Washington, Oregon and northern California but there are stands throughout the Pacific Northwest. They’ll grow on poor soils but need adequate moisture. Noble Fir will not tolerate alkaline soils and they don’t like drying winds-two major reasons why they don’t grow anywhere in the Okanagan Valley! They can grow up to 60 metres tall in the wild, the largest of all Abies species.
Noble Fir is becoming more popular as a cut Christmas tree due to their stiff branches, layered look and excellent needle retention. We typically have our tree indoors for more than three weeks and needle drop is minimal. Tree growers find them somewhat difficult to start, as seed germination can be very spotty. The largest tree ever recorded was 99 metres tall, growing near Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately it was destroyed by the eruption in 1980. Because the wood is so light it was used to make frames of the Mosquito fighter plane in World War II.

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