Abies procera Rehd.

Noble Fir

Modern name

Abies procera Rehder

Synonyms

A. nobilis (D. Don) Lindl., not A. nobilis Dietrich; Pinus nobilis D. Don.

A tree up to 240 ft high in nature, and already more than half that height in cultivation in Britain; young shoots clothed with a reddish-brown minute down; buds roundish, resinous, surrounded at the base by a collar of long-pointed scales free at the tips. Leaves 12 to 113 in. long, 116 in. wide, distinctly grooved on the top, round at the apex, glaucous green, with stomata both above and below; the leaves are very densely arranged on the upper side and at the sides of the shoot, leaving it exposed only underneath; the upper leaves have their bases flattened to the shoot (completely hiding it), then curve abruptly upwards. Cones 6 to 10 in. long, 3 to 312 in. wide, cylindrical, rounded at the top, of a rich brown-purple, with the green bracts conspicuously protruded and reflexed.

Native of Oregon, Washington, and California; discovered by Douglas in 1825 and introduced by him six years later on his second visit. No fir from western N. America has succeeded better than this in certain parts of the country, and best of all in Scotland, where it regenerates naturally. It enjoys a moist climate and deep soil but will grow quite well in cold, exposed situations and in poor mountain peats. The larger trees in this country, and some younger ones, produce cones in great profusion. These cones are the largest among firs, and, standing stiffly erect, their size and rich colour render them very striking. Unfortunately the noble fir is subject to attacks by an aphis which induces gouty swellings on the shoots, but spraying with aphicide will keep the pest in check on young trees. This fir is most closely allied to A. magnifica, but has a more spreading crown and differs in its grooved leaves. Both are distinct from other firs in the crowded leaves on the upper side of the branchlets having their bases flattened against it. The noble fir varies in the intensity of its glaucous hue, forms most notable in this respect being distinguished as f. glauca (Ravenscroft) Rehd.

The fine trees at Murthly Castle, Perthshire, were mentioned in previous editions; of these the tallest was felled in 1943, the best of those remaining being about 130 ft high. Trees of the original introduction by Douglas, and planted in 1835, grow at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, and Dropmore, Bucks. The tallest examples recorded, to mention only those of over 130 ft, are: Duncraig Castle, Ross, 150 × 11 ft (1961); Inveraray, Argyll, by Dubh Loch,. pl. 1873, 147 × 10 and 136 × 714 ft (1953-4); Stourhead, Wilts, 140 × 12 ft (1965); Bolderwood, Hants, 138 × 1312 ft, a superb tree (1954); Dupplin Castle, Perths., 135 × 10 ft (1954); Benmore, Argyll, 133 × 9 ft (1956); Kirkennan, Kirkc., 132 × 1012 ft, fine bole (1954); Durris House, Kinc., 132 × 1414 ft (1955); Cowdray Park, Sussex, 132 × 10 ft (1967); Castle Milk, Dumf., pl. 1884, 130 × 912 ft (1954).



From the Supplement (Vol. V)

Nearly all the notable specimens of the noble fir grow in Scotland: Kirkennan, Kirkcud., 144 × 15[1/2] ft (1984); Cloncaird Castle, Ayrs., 115 × 17[3/4] ft (1984); Ardnaseig, Argyll, 98 × 14[3/4] ft (1976); Dunans, Argyll, 164 × 13[3/4] ft (1985); Benmore, Argyll, 164 × 17 ft and three others (1983); Ardkinglas House, Argyll, 164 × 10[1/2] ft (1982); Kilkerran, Argyll, 144 × 15[1/2] ft (1984); Dupplin Castle, Perths., in Castle Den, 141 × 14 ft and 138 × 13[1/2] ft (1983); Lawers House, Perths., 102 × 16[1/2] ft (1985); Taymouth Castle, Perths., the largest of three 153 × 17[1/2] ft (1983); Scone Castle, Perths., 140 × 14[1/2] ft and 130 × 14[3/4] ft (1981); Blair Atholl, Perths., St Brides, pl. 1872, 121 × 17[3/4] ft and, also pl. 1872, by Drive, 92 × 16[3/4] ft (1981); Cortachy Castle, Angus, 111 × 17[3/4] ft and, pl. 1872, 92 × 16[3/4] ft (1981); Glamis Castle, Angus, 124 × 14[1/2] ft (1981); Durris Castle, Kincard., 157 × 16[1/4] ft and 147 × 15 ft (1980); Inchmarlo, Kincard., 135 × 15[1/2] ft (1981); Cawdor Castle, Nairn, 138 × 16[1/4] ft (1980); Glenferness, Nairn, the largest of three, 115 × 18[3/4] ft (1981); Ardverikie, Inv., pl. 1881, 135 × 16[1/2] ft (1983); Castle Leod, Ross, 100 × 16[1/2] ft (1985); Ardross Castle, Ross, in the Garden, pl. 1849, 75 × 10[1/4] ft in 1931, 105 × 16[1/4] ft (1980).

Some notable specimens in England are: Adhurst St Mary, Hants, 135 × 13[1/2] ft, grafted (1984); Bolderwood, New Forest, Hants, 147 × 13[3/4] ft, grafted (1979); Stourhead, Wilts., 141 × 13[3/4] ft, grafted (1984); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 132 × 14[3/4] ft, grafted (1984); Huntington Park, Heref., 115 × 18[1/4] ft (1980).

In Northern Ireland a tree at Gosford Castle, Co. Armagh, measures 105 × 17[1/4] ft (1976).

† cv. ‘Glauca Prostrata’. – This was raised by Messrs Hillier towards the end of the last century, probably by grafting the side shoot of a particularly glaucous tree of the species. Two original plants, transferred to Jermyns House, Ampfield, Hampshire, in 1952, have been kept prostrate by having their erect shoots cut periodically (H. Hillier, Dwarf Conifers (1964), p. 12). Growing in what is now the Hillier Arboretum they are 4[1/2] ft high and about 12 ft wide (1986).

Genus

Abies

Other species in the genus