Native to the western mountain states, the white fir (Abies concolor) also known as concolor fir, has been planted in Iowa for ornamental and windbreak use. Where native, it is a large tree 150 to 220 feet tall. In Iowa, it reaches a height of 50 to 80 feet. It is a hardy tree and grows on a wide range of soils.
Hardiness: Zones 3 through 7
Growth Rate: Slow
Mature Shape: Narrow, pyramidal with horizontal branches. Lower branches may take on a drooping appearance.
Height: 30-50 feet
Width: 15-30 feet
Site Requirements: Plant trees in full sun to light shade with moist, well-drained soils. Concolor firs are tolerant of heat and drought.
Leaves: Needles that spread almost at right angles in two rows; flat, flexible; light blue-green with whitish lines on top and bottom surfaces
Flowering Dates: May - June
Seed Dispersal Dates: September - October
Seed Bearing Age: 40 years
Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 2 to 4 years
Seed Stratification: Prechill for 1 month at 34°F to 40°F
The needles are flat and blunt-pointed and are 1 to 2 inches long. They stand out distinctly from two sides of the branch and are curved. The young needles have a bluish cast. As they mature they become more pale and take on a whitish cast, which, with the light-colored bark, gives the tree its name.
The cones are 2 to 4 inches long, occurring on the upper branches where they stand upright. They are ashen-tinged olive green to purple in color. When mature they break up while still on the tree.
The comparatively smooth bark is ashy gray and covered with conspicuous resin blisters. On older trees the bark thickens and breaks into deep, longitudinal furrows.