A tree 230 to 300 ft high in nature, with a trunk 4 to 5 ft thick; young shoots glossy, olive-green, not corrugated, minutely downy; winter buds small, conical, resinous, bluish. Leaves in two opposite sets, spreading flatly and horizontally, each set composed of two ranks, the upper ones much shorter than the lower; the leaves are 3⁄4 to 21⁄4 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄10 in. wide; the apex notched and rounded; dark shining green, with two broad white stomatic bands beneath. Cones cylindrical, 3 to 4 in. long, 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide, bright green; the bracts enclosed.
Native of western N. America from Vancouver Island to California; discovered by Douglas in 1825. It was introduced six or seven years later, but all the extant trees are from later sendings. Probably the largest silver fir in the world, it thrives exceedingly well in the moister parts of the British Isles and grows very quickly in deep, moist soil, often at a rate of 2 to 3 ft annually. Very distinct in the flat, comb-like arrangement of the leaves, it is in this respect most nearly approached by A. concolor var. lowiana, which in some of its forms is not easily distinguished from A. grandis in the field.
When this work was first published in 1914 the tallest specimens in the British Isles stood at around 90 to 100 ft; at the present time a tree would have to be near 150 ft to be outstanding. What the ultimate height in cultivation here will prove to be, only the next century will show. Some of the trees now 140 to 150 ft are still growing in height, while others have stopped; in either case girth continues to increase. Tops frequently blow out at 80-100 ft, but are replaced by many new leaders, which grow as fast as the old.
The following are some of the trees mentioned by Elwes and Henry (1908) and still extant today; at that time they were 90 to 98 ft in height and mostly 61⁄2 to 8 ft in girth: Eridge Castle, Kent, pl. 1868, 152 × 14 ft (1963); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 144 × 141⁄4 ft (1961); Fonthill Abbey, Wilts, 149 × 121⁄2 ft (1963). Another at Welford Park, Berks., pl. 1878, died recently and was felled; its measurement was 154 × 12 ft (1958).
Other examples, to mention only those of 150 ft or more in height, are: Leighton Hall, Montg., 170 × 11 ft (1966) and 159 × 91⁄2 ft (1959); Ardkinglas, Argyll, 164 × 151⁄4 ft (1953); Inveraray, Argyll, on Loch Shira, 160 × 93⁄4 and 156 × 121⁄4 ft (1955); Taymouth Castle, Perths., 152 × 143⁄4 ft (1962); Batsford Park, Glos., 150 × 123⁄4 ft (1963).