E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.
subalpine fir
Pinaceae (Pine family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Andrea Paetow  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #85534)

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Distribution of Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa
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This is a tall evergreen, coniferous tree species found from Alaska and the Yukon south to Oregon, Northern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Species Information

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Usually straight tree, seldom over 35 m tall (up to 50 m in some areas), with distinctly spire-shaped crown; bark grey, smooth, with resin blisters, becoming somewhat ridged with age; branches not spray-like; a common tree-line species, in stunted form.
Needles flattened, blunt and usually notched at the tip; bluish-green, flat above, ridged beneath, having stomata on both sufaces; (2) 2.5-3 (4) cm long, tending to curve upwards, not horizontally spreading.
Seed cones erect, deep purple, 6-10 (11) cm long, 3-3.5 cm thick, the bracts deciduous; pollen cones bluish. Note: In the recently published Flora of North America, Hunt (1993) recognized Abies lasiocarpa as occurring only along the coast with the interior populations assigned to Abies bifolia. Differences between the two occur in the wood chemistry, lack of crystals in ray parenchyma in A. bifolia, shape of basal bud scales, and color of the periderm. However, introgression occurs throughout most of BC, thus hybrid populations predominate. The only unique populations of A. lasiocarpa are in coastal Alaska. Due to the introgression in BC and the relatively minor morphological differences between the two taxa, we include A. bifolia within A. lasiocarpa.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic slopes in the montane to alpine zones; common in BC in and E of Coast-Cascade Mountains, locally frequent on Vancouver Island; N to S AK and YT, E to SW AB and S to OR, N NV, AZ and NM.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Abies balsamea subsp. lasiocarpa (Hook.) B. Boivin
Abies balsamea var. fallax (Engelm.) B. Boivin
Abies bifolia A. Murray
Abies subalpina Engelmann

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References