True firs

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
August 2006, Feb 2010, Oct 2011, Dec 2013, June 2014, Aug 2016

Abies grandis x lasiocarpa?

Idaho. Idaho Co.: Clearwater NF,
along the Lewis and Clark Trail
(Hwy 12) west of Lolo Pass
20 July 2010

Abies concolor
OR: Fremont NF,  Sycan River
Aug 2009, SPJ-16539

Abies concolor
CA: Warner Mts
Aug 2009, SPJ-16548

Abies concolor
OR: Fremont NF,  NRT Trail
Aug 2009, SPJ-16540

Abies cf procera (cone)
OR: Fremont NF,
Summit Prairie along FS Rd 3910,
      6-7 air-miles SW of Lakeview; 42º10.816, 120º12.891, 6150 ft. 
Large meadow bordered by aspen and ponderosa pine. 17 Aug 2009, SPJ-16541. Cone image blurry, included to show exserted bracts.

Abies concolor
OR: Fremont NF,  Crooked Spring
Aug 2009, SPJ-16544

Abies concolor
OR: Fremont NF,  Round Spring
Aug 2009, SPJ-16528

Abies concolor
OR: Fremont NF,  Winter Ridge
Aug 2009, SPJ-16534A

Abies concolor
CA Lassen Co., Susan River
Aug 2009, SPJ-16552

Abies concolor

Kern Co., CA. Tehachapi Mts., Tejon Ranch Conservancy
Winter Ridge, CNPS Chapter Field Trip,17 Apr 2016

Abies concolor
Greenhorn Mts., Trail to Sunday Peak, Tulare/Kern Co., CA.  3 Aug 2016.  Occurring with red fir, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, below red fir forest.

Abies concolor
Transverse Ranges, Kern Co., CA, Trail to Mt. Pinos, 22 Jun 2016


Abies concolor

OR: Fremont NF, White Horse Creek
Aug 2009, SPJ-16531


Abies concolor
CA Siskiyou Co., Cascade Range
Aug 2009, SPJ-16554-white fir

Abies concolor
NV: Mt. Rose
Aug 2009, SPJ-16556

Abies concolor
white fir,
OR: Fremont NF, Quartz Mt., Spjut 15547, Aug 2003
∂-thujaplienin isolated by Cole, active in KB  (Hartwell 1976).



Abies grandis (Grand fir)

Near Aberdeen, WA
8 July 2010


Abies grandis (Grand fir)

Idaho: North-central, Clearwater Natl. For., Eldorado Creek near jct. with Dollar Creek, 46º17.964, 115º38.776, elev. 3,540 ft, wetland prairie with dominant Veratrum californicum surrounded by  forest of Englemann spruce, western red cedar. 26 July 2011

Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa
Oregon. Blue Mountains. Wallowa NF, Lick Creek. 45º09.602, 117º02.120, elev. 5,400 ft. Stream side meadows with Veratrum californicum surrounded by subalpine fir-Englemann spruce-lodgepole pine  forest. 29 July 2011

Abies lasiocarpa ssp. bifolia
Rocky Mt subalpine fir, Trout Creek, Sawtooth NF, ID
ravine with dense patch of Veratrum californicum

Abies lasiocarpa ssp. lasiocarpa
subalpine fir
Marble Mts. Wilderness, CA; trail
to Marble Mt., July 1987

Abies magnifica
CA Siskiyou Co., Cascade Range
Aug 2009, SPJ-16554-red fir


Abies magnifica var. shastensis
Shasta fir
Mt. Shasta, CA
Spjut 14898, July 2002


Abies magnifica var. shastensis
Marble Mts. Wilderness, Lake-of-the-Island
CA, 5600 ft, July 2006


Abies magnifica var. crutchfieldii
Crutchfield  fir
Trail to Sunday Peak, Tulare/Kern Co., CA.  Oct 23, 2013; 3 Aug 2016.  Occurring with white fir at lower elevations, red fir forest .

Abies sp.
with lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

Gold Creek, Fremont National Forest,
OR. Aug 2009 

Abies procera
Klamath Mts., Oregon
July 2011

Trees and Shrubs of Kern County (Jan 2013)


     Evergreen trees; needles ± spreading upwards (erect) to horizontally along two sides of the branch, grooved on upper (adaxial) side, notched or rounded to apex, persisting 5 yrs or more; pollen cones sausage shaped (cylndric or subcylindric, curved), often in axils of successive leaves on branchlets of the current season, varying in color from red to yellow or purple or green; seed cones mature before end of season, the scales falling from a central axis, which remains attached to branch as a spike; seeds winged. ±42 spp. in temperate regions of northern hemisphere; 6 of 11 North American spp. used medicinally by native Americans (Hunt 1993; Moerman); 3 with antitumor activity from aqueous or aqueous/ethanol extracts in NCI assays sensitive to tannins (A. concolor stembark, A. magnifica twig-leaf, A. religiosa (Pinus religiosa Kunth 1817)  Schlechtendal & Chamisso 1830 twig-leaf (from Mexico). Ninety-four secondary chemical constituents isolated from A. fabri (Keteleeria fabri Masters 1902) Craib 1919 , largely terpenoids, also lignans, flavonoids and miscellaneous compounds (Y. L. Li et al. 2015).

Needles twist near base where they attach to twigs.... ...................................... Abies concolor

Needles sharply bent near base so that part of the needle is pressed
against the twig, the needle then abruptly
bends upwards........................................................... Abies magnifica var. critchfieldii


Abies concolor (Picea concolor Gordon & Glendinning 1858) Lindley ex Hildebrand 1861. White fir.  Tree with aromatic needles and upright cones on branches well above the ground; bark smooth and grayish white when young, becoming deeply furrowed with age, gray to reddish; needles slightly 4-angled, with whitish stomata bands on all surfaces, variable in arrangement along twigs, on some plants leaves on lower branches appear to spread horizontally, while on higher or younger branches they spread directly upwards; in other locations, they may all spread upwards  but then still identified by the twisted leaf stalk.  Generally a montane species of conifer forests in western U.S.  to northern Mexico. White fir forest and white fir-sugar pine forest, which occur in Kern Co., recognized in MCV2 when >60% relative cover in canopy and the most common reproducing tree in the understory, or includes sugar pine when its absolute cover is >2% with 50% white fir cover. Type from mountains of New Mexico.  Kern County: Common in the montane forests of Kern County.

Abies magnifica A. Murray 1863 var. critchfieldii Lanner 2010. Critchfield red fir. Similar to the preceding, leaf stalks and part of the needle near base sharply bent and pressed against the twig.  The variety found only in the southern Sierra Nevada. Red fir forest recognized in MCV2 when >50% relative cover in the tree canopy and reproducing in  the understory.  Type from Tulare Co., Mountain Home State Forest, mixed conifer forest, south slope, 6,600 ft, CA.  Kern County: Sunday Peak, the southernmost distribution of the species and variety in the Sierra Nevada, 2,200–2,400 m.


BONAP Distribution maps for species of Abies, North America synthesis. http://www.bonap.org/dist%20maps%202009/Abies.html


Dubey S, S. Saha S, and S.A.  2015. In vitro anti-cataract evaluation of standardised Abies pindrow leaf extract using isolated goat lenses. Nat. Prod. Res. 29(12):1145–48. “Oxidative stress is known to spark off the pathogenesis of cataract. Antioxidant potential of Abies pindrow Royle leaf extract (APE) is well established in the literature. In this context, standard aqueous leaf extract of this plant was evaluated for its role in hydrogen peroxide-induced cataract in isolated goat lenses using varying concentrations (5, 10, 15 and 20 mg/mL). Total phenol and flavonoidal content was evaluated and found to be high in concentration. Biochemical parameters, namely superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH), total protein content (TPC) and malondialdehyde (MDA), were evaluated. SOD, GSH and TPC formation was found to increase proportionally with increasing concentration. However, MDA level decreased significantly as the concentration of the extract increased. The results suggest that the extract under investigation can delay the onset and/or prevent the progression of cataract. Its anti-cataract potential may be attributed to the presence of high phenolics and flavonoids in APE. Photographic evaluation, further, confirmed the observation.”

Li,  Y.L., Y. X. Gao, H. Z. Jin, L. Shan, W. L. Chang, X. W. Yang, H. W. Zeng, N. Wang, A. Steinmetz, and W. D. Zhang. 2015. Chemical constituents of Abies fabri. Phytochemistry 117: 135–143. “Systematic phytochemical investigations on Abies fabri resulted in the isolation of 94 compounds, consisting of 68 terpenoids, six lignans, seven flavonoids, and 13 other miscellaneous chemical constituents. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of spectroscopic methods, and the absolute configurations of three of these previously unknown compounds were determined by Cu-Kα X-ray crystallographic analysis. Twelve previously unreported compounds, one artifact, and one potential artifact were identified, including six triterpenoids, four diterpenoids, two sesquiterpenoids, one lignan, and one phenol. 23-Hydroxy-3-oxolanosta-8,24-dien-26,23-olide showed weak cytotoxic activity against A549 and THP-1 cells with the IC50 values of 5.3 and 5.1μM, respectively.”

Semerikova, S.A. and V. L. Semerikov. 2014. [Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus Abies (Pinaceae) based on the nucleotide sequence of chloroplast DNA]. Genetika 50(1):12–25 [In Russian]. “A phylogenetic study of firs (Abies Mill.) was conducted using nucleotide sequences of several chloroplast DNA regions with a total length of 5580 bp. The analysis included 37 taxa, which represented the main evolutionary lineages of the genus, and Keteleeria daviana. According to phylogenetic reconstruction the Abies species were subdivided into six main groups, generally corresponding to their geographic distribution. The phylogenetic tree had three basal clades. All of these clades contained American species, and only one of them contained Eurasian species. The divergence time calibrations, based on paleobotanical data and the chloroplast DNA mutation rate estimates in Pinaceae, produced similar results. The age of diversification among the clades of the present-day Abies was estimated as the end of the Oligocene-beginning of Miocene. The age of the separation of Mediterranean firs from the Asian-North American branch corresponds to the Miocene. The age of diversification within the young groups of Mediterranean, Asian, and boreal American firs (A. lasiocarpa, A. balsamea, A. fraseri) was estimated as the Pliocene-Pleistocene. Based on the phylogenetic reconstruction obtained, the most plausible biogeographic scenarios were suggested. It is noted that the existing systematic classification of the genus Abies strongly contradicts with phylogenetic reconstruction and requires revision.”

Wajs-Bonikowska A., M. Sienkiewicz, A. Stobiecka, A. Maciąg, L. Szoka, and E. Karna. 2015. Chemical composition and biological activity of Abies alba and A. koreana seed and cone essential oils and characterization of their seed hydrolates. Chem. Biodivers.12(3): 407–18. “The chemical composition, including the enantiomeric excess of the main terpenes, the antimicrobial and antiradical activities, as well as the cytotoxicity of Abies alba and A. koreana seed and cone essential oils were investigated. Additionally, their seed hydrolates were characterized. In the examined oils and hydrolates, a total of 174 compounds were identified, which comprised 95.6-99.9% of the volatiles. The essential oils were mainly composed of monoterpene hydrocarbons, whereas the composition of the hydrolates, differing from the seed oils of the corresponding fir species, consisted mainly of oxygenated derivatives of sesquiterpenes. The seed and cone essential oils of both firs exhibited DPPH-radical-scavenging properties and low antibacterial activity against the bacterial strains tested. Moreover, they evoked only low cytotoxicity towards normal fibroblasts and the two cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MBA-231. At concentrations up to 50 μg/ml, all essential oils were safe in relation to normal fibroblasts. Although they induced cytotoxicity towards the cancer cells at concentrations slightly lower than those required for the inhibition of fibroblast proliferation, their influence on cancer cells was weak, with IC50 values similar to those observed towards normal fibroblasts.”

Xiang, Q.P., R. Wei, Y. Z. Shao, Z. Y. Yang, X. Q. Wang, and X. C. Zhang. 2015. Phylogenetic relationships, possible ancient hybridization, and biogeographic history of Abies (Pinaceae) based on data from nuclear, plastid, and mitochondrial genomes. Mol Phylogenet. Evol. 82 Pt A: 1–14, 341-2 (erratum). “Abies, the second largest genus of Pinaceae, consists of approximately 48 species occurring in the north temperate region. Previous molecular phylogenetic studies improved our understanding of relationships within the genus, but were limited by relying on only DNA sequence data from single genome and low taxonomic sampling. Here we use DNA data from three genomes (sequences of internal transcribed spacer of nrITS, three chloroplast DNA intergenic spacers, and two mitochondrial intergenic spacers) from 42 species to elucidate species relationships and construct the biogeographic history of Abies. We further estimated the divergence times of intercontinental disjunction using a relaxed molecular clock calibrated with three macro-fossils. Our phylogenetic analyses recovered six robust clades largely consistent with previous classifications of sections. A sister relationship between the eastern Asian and Europe-Mediterranean clades was highly supported. The monophyly of section Balsamea, disjunct in Far East and western North America, is supported by the nrITS data but not by the cpDNA data. Discordance on placement of section Balsamea between the paternally inherited cpDNA and maternally inherited mtDNA trees was also observed. The data suggested that ancient hybridization was likely involved in the origin of sect. Balsamea. Results from biogeographic analyses and divergence time estimation suggested an origin and early diversification of Abies in an area of high latitude around the Pacific during the Eocene. The present disjunction in eastern Asia and Europe-Mediterranean area of Abies was likely the result of southward migration and isolation by the Turgai Strait in the Late Eocene. An 'out-of-America' migration, for the origin of an eastern Asian and western North American disjunct species pairs in section Amabilis was supported. The results suggested a western North American origin of the section with subsequent dispersal across the Bering Land Bridge (BLB) to Japan during the Middle Miocene”