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Cork-bark Fir

The Abies Lasiocarpa is commonly known as Alpine Fir, Arizona Fir, Balsam, Balsam Fir, Cork-bark Fir, Corkbark Fir, Pino Real Blanco, Rocky Mountain Fir, Subalpine Fir, Western Balsam Fir, White Balsam, as well as White Fir

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Growing Regions

Subalpine fir is the mostly widely distributed fir in North America, spanning more than 32 degrees of latitude [11]. It occurs chiefly in mountainous areas from the Yukon interior near treeline and along the coast of southeastern Alaska south through western Alberta and British Columbia to southern Colorado and scattered mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico [54,75]. In the western portion of its range, subalpine fir does not occur along the western slope of the Coast Range in southern British Columbia or along the Coast Ranges of Washington and Oregon but does occur on Vancouver Island and in the Olympic Mountains of Washington [11]. It occurs on both slopes of the Cascade Mountains as far south as southern Oregon [11]. The two varieties are distributed as follows [11,75]: var. lasiocarpa - almost the same as the species, but not in central and southeastern Arizona. var. arizonica - from central Colorado to southwestern New Mexico, and in southeastern and central Arizona. Subalpine fir and corkbark fir occur together in scattered mountain ranges in southwestern Colorado, northern, western, and southwestern New Mexico, and in the high mountains of Arizona [11].


General Information

The genus Abies consists of about 40 species of evergreen trees found in the northern hemisphere. Nine species of Abies, including subalpine fir, are native to the United States [75]. The currently accepted scientific name of subalpine fir is Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt. [75]. Subalpine fir is widely distributed and exhibits geographic variation. Two varieties are recognized based on morphological differences [75]: Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica - corkbark fir Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa - subalpine fir Subalpine fir hybridizes with balsam fir (A. balsamea) where their ranges overlap in the Canadian Rockies [41].

Forests in which subalpine fir attains climax dominance or codominance
are widespread throughout the mountains of western North America.  The
subalpine fir series generally occupies cold, high elevation mountain
forests.  Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) is usually associated
with subalpine fir.  It occurs as either a climax codominant or as a
persistent, long-lived seral species in most subalpine fir habitat

Published classification schemes listing subalpine fir as a dominant
part of the vegetation in habitat types (hts), community types (cts),
plant associations (pas), ecosystem associations (eas), site types (sts)
or dominance types (dts) are presented below:

Area                    Classification          Authority

AK: -----               general veg. cts        Viereck & Dyrness 1980
AZ: San Francisco       forest, alpine & 
      Peaks RNA           meadow cts            Rominger & Paulik 1983
AZ, NM: -----           forest & woodland hts   Layser & Schubert 1979
        Apache, Gila, 
          Cibola NFs    forest hts              Fitzhugh & others 1987
        s of Mogollon
          Rim           forest hts              Develice & Ludwig 1983b
n AZ, n NM              forest hts              Larson & Moir 1987
CO: Arapaho &
      Roosevelt NFs     forest hts              Hess & Alexander 1986
    Gunnison & 
      Uncompahgre NFs   forest hts              Komarkova & others 1988
    Routt NF            forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1980
    White River-        grassland, shrubland,
      Arapaho NF          & forestland hts      Hess & Wasser 1982
    White River NF      forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1983
w CO                    riparian pas            Baker 1989a
ID: Sawtooth, White
      Cloud, Boulder, 
      & Pioneer Mtns    general veg. cts        Schlatterer 1972
c ID                    forest hts              Steele & others 1981
n ID                    forest hts              Cooper & others 1987
se ID                   aspen cts               Mueggler & Campbell 1986
e ID, w WY              forest hts              Steele & others 1983
MT: -----               forest hts              Pfister & others 1977
    -----               riparian dts            Hansen & others 1988
c, e MT                 riparian cts, hts       Hansen & others 1990
nw MT                   riparian hts, cts       Boggs & others 1990
sw MT                   riparian rst, cts, hts  Hansen & others 1989
NM: Cibola NF           forest hts              Alexander & others 1987
    Lincoln NF          forest hts              Alexander & others 1984
n NM, s CO              forest hts              Develice & Ludwig 1983a
n NM, s CO              forest hts              Develice  & others 1986
OR: Wallowa-Whitman NF  steppe & forest pas     Johnson & Simon 1987
    Eagle Cap
      Wilderness        general veg. cts        Cole 1982
OR, WA: -----           general veg. cts        Franklin & Dyrness 1973
        Blue Mtns       general veg. pas        Hall 1973
UT: -----               aspen cts               Mueggler & Campbell 1986
c, s UT                 forest hts              Youngblood & Mauk 1985
n UT                    forest hts              Mauk & Henderson 1984
WA: Okanogan NF         forest pas              Williams & Lillybridge 1983 
    Mount Rainier NP    forest pas              Franklin & others 1988    
    North Cascades NP   forest pas              Agee & Kertis 1987
e WA, n ID              forest hts, cts         Daubenmire & Daubenmire 1968
WY: Bridger-Teton NF    aspen cts               Youngblood & Mueggler 1981
    Medicine NF         forest hts              Alexander & others 1986
    Bighorn Mtns        forest hts              Hoffman & Alexander 1976
    Wind River Mtns     forest hts              Reed 1976

USFS R-2                general veg. pas        Johnston 1987
USFS R-2                general veg. hts,pas    Wasser & Hess 1982
USFS R-4                aspen cts               Mueggler 1988

w-c AB                  forest cts              Corns 1983
BC: -----               grassland, forest hts   McLean 1970
    -----               general veg. eas        Pojar & others 1984
nw BC                   forest eas              Haeussler & others 1985


Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Abies lasiocarpa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.

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