Noble Fir Characteristics

Noble firs are evergreen trees that grow in the coniferous climate of the moist, marine climate of the Pacific Northwest. Noble firs are primarily found along the western slopes and crests of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington, with a few trees scattered in areas of the Pacific Coast Range. Noble firs are a major Christmas tree crop in Oregon, where they are also marketed as wreathes and decorative greenery. They are slow-growing trees that under certain conditions can be cultivated in the home landscape.

Appearance

Noble fir is a large, attractively-shaped tree with a pyramidal shape. At maturity, noble fir can grow to massive heights of 200 feet or more with a 30-foot spread. The needles are about an inch long, bluish-green in color, with a slight curve that gives them a hockey stick appearance. The barrel-shaped cones of the noble fir are four to six inches long and grow upright on the branches. At maturity, the cones will take on a purplish cast. The thin, smooth bark is brownish-gray and turns darker as the tree matures.

Home Landscape

Noble firs are appropriate for home landscaping if you live in a climate that is cool and damp all year with an elevation of at least 1,000 feet. Although noble firs can tolerate sub-zero temperatures, they won't grow in climates with hot, dry summers or dry winters. Plant noble fir in full sunlight and be sure the soil drains well because although noble firs like moisture, they are susceptible to root rot in poorly drained soil. Don't plant a noble fir if you don't have space to accommodate its size at maturity. Although noble fir can grow to heights in excess of 250 feet in the wild, cultivated noble fir will usually grow to about 100 feet.

Wildlife Value

Although noble fir doesn't produce cones and seed until it's about 20 years old, once the seeds develop, they provide food for many bird species, including nuthatches, blue jays, owls, grossbeaks and chickadees, as well as rodents such as mice and squirrels. The dense branches provide protection for a number of animals species, including the black bears that like to munch on the bark.

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About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.