Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' / Spreading Star Pacific silver fir

Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' is an old selection of Pacific silver fir from The Netherlands which has very attractive lush, green, fluffy, long needles with silvery undersides and a tendency to grow very wide without developing any sort of leader. After ten years, a mature specimen will be an attractive low spreading mound with overlapping horizontal or arching branches, measuring about 3 feet (1 m) wide and 1 foot (30 cm) tall, suggesting a yearly growth rate of 3 to 4 inches (7.5 - 10 cm).

This cultivar originated as a seedling selected before 1960 by Blijdenstein Pinetum, The Netherlands. This plant was also seen listed as Abies amabilis 'Procumbens' at the Herm Hesse nursery. Clearly, the original name took precedence.

Attribution from: Fincham, Robert L. - Coenosium Gardens Catalog of Rare Plants For The Discriminating Person ; Catalog Number Fourteen, January 2003.

Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star', fall 2013, Alton, NH.
Photo by Sean Callahan
Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
A nice young specimen of Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' taken at Hobbiton Gardens in Port Orchard, Washington. This picture shows the "hardened-off," mature needles. This specimen is about five years old.
Photo by William Fletcher
Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' — a magnificent older specimen.
Photo by Bill Barger
Abies amabilis 'Spreading Star' in the conifer collection at the Oregon Garden, Silverton, OR, an ACS Reference Garden.
Photo by David Olszyk


Laura Jull

Has anyone tried this cultivar in zone 4b? I currently live in zone 5a, but we had a true zone 4 winter two years ago. I am looking for a fir with low, spreading growth form. I have a 120' long, 40' wide berm that I am filling up with conifers. I have some big ones already and focusing on smaller or dwarf cultivars. I am blessed with excellent soil there, not elsewhere in my yard. The pH is 6.5 with 5% organic matter content and nicely well-drained, silt loam. It is black prairie soil that is wonderful to dig into.

Bill Swanson

Yes ... I have grown A. amabilis 'Spreading Star' for decades in Minnesota. No problem at -25ºF but burns severely below -30ºF. Found to really prefer good snow cover for a healthy root system. I have found most mountain conifers don't like frozen root systems. Most survive -30ºF if having early snow protection to prevent deep frost.