City Trees

March/April 2021

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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40 CityTREES Full sun is best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfil- tered sunlight each day, but it can also do well in part shade. To thrive, the tree requires a soil pH in the acidic to neutral range; soil that is moist, well drained, and reasonably loamy; and hardiness zones of Zone 3 to 7. From the branches grow soft, bluish silver needles with whitish lines of stomata on upper and lower surfaces, approximately 1.5 to 3 inches (4 to 8 cm) long, extending from all sides of the twig, and usually blunt-tipped. Cones of 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) length sit upright on its branches. They start out olive green, turning purplish and then brown at maturity, after which they disintegrate while on the tree. The bark when concolor is young is a smooth gray, thickening with age into rough irregular furrows. Some branches can curve toward the ground while the top branches reach upward. Its name is as simple as the tree is beautiful. Abies is the Latin for fir trees, and concolor means "together, or of one color." As Dirr writes in his Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs, concolor fir is "one of the most adaptable and beautiful firs for landscape work, partic- ularly in the Northeast and Midwest." The white fir grows in a spire shape to a height of 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m) and a spread of about 20 feet (6 m) at maturity, though in the wild it can reach 150 feet (46 m). Its nicely tiered branches give it a handsome aspect, and it makes a tolerable windbreak. As a tree not employed for its lumber, con- color fir has remained naturally protected over the years and offers great wildlife value. Fir trees support grouse, which enjoy the buds and needles; squirrels, rodents, chick- adees, crossbills, and Clark's nutcrackers consume concolor's seeds. Deer browse on its buds, seedlings, and needles, and porcu- pines are known to gnaw on its bark. Maturing Abies concolor. Photo by Andy Hillman

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