Alpine Fir

Abies lasiocarpa
[AY-bees lay-see-o-KAHR-pus]

Update 2023: Our Alpine Fir has grown maybe 3 feet in 4 years, keeping true to its reported slow growth habit. It still looks lovely, providing an attractive, narrow structure to the driveway circle where I planted it. I have seen reports that these trees can suffer from blight when grown outside at low elevations, but aside from a few branch tips that have died back, it seems to be weathering our garden environment quite well. However, it’s slowly becoming more shaded by a nearby (and quite stunning) Slender Hinoki Cypress, so it will be interesting to see how this change in sun exposure affects its overall health.

Alpine Fir (or Subalpine Fir) are stately native conifers that grow near the tree line in our Cascade Mountains and beyond. I found a few of them for sale at Sky Nursery while searching for a replacement tree for the two overgrown pine trees we had removed. This species wasn’t on the official list ok’d by the city, so I took a picture and sent it to the arborist for approval. I love the picturesque craggy shape the limbs of these trees take on as they age, similar to a Mountain Hemlock but with rounder needle groupings (I’m sure there’s an official botanist term for that…). And this species prefers partial shade, so I hope it does well in our garden.

Companion Plants

Columbine, succulents

Nursery Tag

Slow-growing upright coniferous evergreen tree height 6 to 10 feet - spread 3 to 5 feet - hardy to about -30 degrees F. Plant alpine fir where it has protection against harsh sunlight. It will survive periods of drought.

Gardener's Log

06/2019: Planted in center of driveway circle. One of two trees used to satisfy tree replacement requirements (pine trees removed from beside the garage)

alpine fir photo

Photo by Pig Monkey