fbpx Fir | The Morton Arboretum


The white fir has attractive, blue-green needles that curve outward and upward on branches

Fir (Abies) trees are easy to pick out because their cones face up rather than down unlike other conifer cones. Stand amidst these trees and admire their unique symmetry, unparalleled by any other coniferous genera.

As you approach the end of the Conifer Walk, you will find the large fir tree section. Fir trees are in the genus Abies, and are represented by eighteen different kinds at The Morton Arboretum. Fir species often bear attractive cones that mature in one season. These cones disintegrate once mature, releasing the wind-borne seeds. Compared to spruce trees, the needles on fir are usually, but not always, noticeably softer. Firs are the most symmetrical of conifers. Often, the age of a tree up to fifty years can be determined simply by counting the branch whorls (one whorl per year).

Some of the noteworthy specimens, visible from the walkway, are white fir (Abies concolor) with its distinctive bluish needles, noble looking silver fir (Abies alba), and formal looking balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Take note of the selections of Korean fir (Abies koreana) in the Garden Conifer section. The cones of this species are a deep purple color even when immature.

It is a great experience to stroll through the collection in winter when needle colors tend to be more vivid. Explore the diverse fir specimens present in this section, and decide which kind is your favorite.