Abies concolor var. lowiana / Sierra white fir

Abies concolor var. lowiana, as described in 1895, by John Gill Lemmon, in Cone-bearing Trees of the Pacific Slope, 3rd edition, is commonly known as Pacific white fir. California white fir. or Sierra white fir. The epithet is named in honor of Hugh Low (1794 - 1863), an English nurseryman.

Synonyms include:

  • Abies concolor ssp. Iowiana (Gord.) E. Murray
  • Abies lowiana (Gord.) A. Murray
  • Abies parsonii (Fowler, non Sene.)
  • Abies parsoniana (McNab)

Description. Subspecies lowiana differs from typical Abies concolor in growing much larger. Its needles are less bluish and more arranged like those of Abies grandis, and it is less hardy. It is much less commonly grown. Botanically it might be regarded as intermediate between grand fir and white fir.

Distribution. This species is endemic from mid-Oregon to south California mountains. .


  • 246 feet tall by 15 feet 3 inches wide (74.9 x 4.6 m) in Yosemite, CA (measured in 1982)
  • 192 feet by 27' 11" wide (58.5 x 8.5 m) in Sierra National Forest, CA (measured in 1972)
Abies concolor var. lowiana, the perfect Christmas tree. In the San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California. Hot, dry summers with cool winters and intermittent snow. Unnamed ACS member shown for scale.
Photo by Dan Spear