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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Andrea Paetow     (Photo ID #85534)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Abies lasiocarpa
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Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa


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

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA


Ecological Framework for Abies lasiocarpa

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres)
1381 0 2750
Slope Gradient (%)
23 0 420

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

242 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

AT(129), BAFA(82), BWBS(387), CMA(16), CWH(92), ESSF(8842), ICH(2912), IDF(218), IMA(40), MH(160), MS(1752), PP(1), SBPS(53), SBS(2809), SWB(362)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia