Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Abies magnifica

Introductory

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Cope, Amy B. 1993. Abies magnifica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].
ABBREVIATION : ABIMAG SYNONYMS : Abies shastensis Lemm. SCS PLANT CODE : ABMA COMMON NAMES : California red fir Critchfield red fir Shasta red fir red fir TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of California red fir is Abies magnifica A. Murr. [46,49]. Recognized varieties are as follows: Abies magnifica var. magnifica, California red fir [46,49,73] Abies magnifica var. critchfieldii Lanner, Critchfield red fir [73] Abies magnifica var. shastensis Lemm., Shasta red fir [46,49,73] California red fir hybridizes with noble fir (A. procera) where they occur together [6,46]. These hybrids are similar to Shasta red fir, which increases taxonomic confusion of the California red fir-noble fir complex in the Klamath region [28,55,61]. Morphological comparisions, artifical crosses, and molecular studies indicate that Shasta red fir resulted from California red fir and noble fir introgression, while Critchfield red fir is not hybridized with noble fir [73]. The information in this review pertains to California red fir unless specified otherwise. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : California red fir occurs in the Sierra Nevada from Kern County, California, north to the southern Cascade Range of Oregon and in the Coast Ranges from Lake County, California, north to the Klamath Ranges [43,46,49,54].  California red fir is also found in extreme western Nevada [46]. Shasta red fir occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada and in the Klamath Ranges, Siskiyou Mountains and the Cascade Range of northern California and southern Oregon [1,25,28]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods STATES :      CA  NV  OR BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     4  Sierra Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K007  Red fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K029  California mixed evergreen forest SAF COVER TYPES :    205  Mountain hemlock    207  Red fir    211  White fir    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    245  Pacific ponderosa pine    247  Jeffrey pine    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : California red fir occurs in pure, dense forests between the lower montane white fir (Abies concolor) or mixed-conifer forests and the upper montane or subalpine lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana) and mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) forests [5,6,7,54,68].  In the upper montane coniferous forests, California red fir is an overstory dominant on mesic sites [5,6].  Canopies can be open or closed, and understory vegetation is variable but generally sparse [54,55]. California red fir or Shasta red fir is listed as overstory dominants in the following published classifications: Preliminary plant associations of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain   Province [2] Preliminary plant associations of the Siskiyou Mountain Province [4] Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington [27] Terrestrial natural communities of California [35] Vegetation of the Abbott Creek Research Natural Area, Oregon [48] Montane and subalpine vegetation of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges [54] Montane and subalpine vegetation of the Klamath Mountains [55] Vascular plant communities of California [68].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of California red fir is straight-grained, light and soft but stronger than the wood of other firs, and has a low specific gravity [26,49,60].  California red fir often has sweep in the butt [60]. The wood is used for fuel, coarse lumber, quality veneer, solid framing, plywood, printing paper, and high-quality wrapping paper, and is preferred for pulping (sulphite and thermomechanical) [43,49,60]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Old-growth forests of California red fir provide important habitat for many animals, some of which are sensitive, rare, and/or endangered [44]. Marten prefer large snags, stumps, and logs in closed canopies of these forests for den sites [18,47,62].  Other animals that use California red fir forests include fisher, wolverine, black bear, squirrels, chickadee, pileated woodpecker, great gray owl, Williamson's sapsucker, and pocket gopher [18,45,62,67].  The cones are cut and cached by squirrels.  Deer browse new growth in the spring [43]. Climax communities of California red fir support birds that forage for insects in the foliage of conifers [11].  Mountain beaver use California red fir for food and thermal and escape cover [9,69]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : California red fir is used for Christmas trees [28,43,45]. High-elevation California red fir stands are frequently used as recreational sites [44].   OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Together, California red fir and white fir produce one-fourth of California's timber volume [31].  After partial cutting, California red fir is susceptible to windthrow [43].  Unmanaged, even-aged, well-stocked stands tend to mature in approximately 140 years [24,43]. Shasta red fir grows in dense stands that are highly productive [25]. Southern aspects that dry early in the growing season and flat surfaces associated with frost are the most difficult for Shasta red fir reforestation [2]. California red fir is an important tree for watershed protection because of the large amounts of snow that accumulate in these stands during the winter [28,44]. Fir dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium abietinum ssp. magnificae) causes a significant amount of damage and occurs throughout the range of California red fir [33,43].  Infected trees show less growth and vigor and produce fewer seeds with lower viability [21,33,57].  When infected, California red fir is more susceptible to secondary attack by insects and fungi, which most commonly results in death of the tree [21,33,56,57].  The wood of infected trees has decreased strength and value for pulp [33].  Dense stands make it easy for fir dwarf mistletoe to spread from crown to crown [56].  Management of infected stands is discussed in the literature [24,40,56,57].  California red fir does not respond well to thinning because of its susceptibility to infestation after mechanical wounding [24]. Annosus root rot (Heterobasidion annosum) also causes significant losses [24,58].  Infection is most common on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and in relatively pure stands or dense stands with a history of logging [16,59].  Infected California red fir are vulnerable to windthrow and secondary attack by insects and other fungi [13,21,58,59].  The occurrence and management of other fungi that damage California red fir are discussed in the literature [22,23,43,44,57]. The major insect pest of California red fir is fir engraver beetle (Scolytus ventralis) [13,21,43].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : California red fir is a native, long-lived conifer that ranges between 66 and 198 feet (20-60 m) in height [26,32,45,49,70].  Mature trees can grow to a d.b.h. of 8.5 feet (2.6 m) [1].  The bark of young trees is thin but becomes thick and roughly fissured with age [12,45,49].  The needles are 0.8 to 1.4 inches (2.0-3.5 cm) long [49].  Cones are upright on the upper branches and are up to 9 inches (23 cm) long [43,45]. California red fir has short branches and a narrow crown [35,49]. California red fir has a high frost tolerance.  California red and Shasta red fir have a low drought tolerance [23,34,44].   RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : California red fir does not reproduce vegetatively [43]. The minimum seed-bearing age for California red fir is 35 to 45 years of age and 30 to 40 for Shasta red fir [17,26,43].  Good seed crops are produced at 2- to 6-year intervals [17,26,28,44].  Seed is disseminated by wind a distance of approximately 1 to 1.5 tree heights from the parent [43,44].  The average germination rate of California red fir seeds is 30 to 43 percent [28,43,44].  Insects account for 18 to 45 percent of annual seed loss [64]. Initial seedling establishment is best in bare mineral soil or light litter [5,,24,41,44].  Seeds of California red fir usually germinate the first spring after they are shed and are not stored in the forest floor [31].  After the first year, seedling survival was higher in seedbeds with heavier litter than those seedbeds without litter [30]. Competition and shading from shrubs and grasses and frost damage inhibit establishment and growth of California red fir [24,30,67].  Seedlings near stand edges had lower survival rates than those farther away from the edge [30]. Mortality is greatest soon after the tree reaches 12 inches (30 cm) in height and is usually attributed to pocket gophers damaging seedling roots and deer clipping new foliage [31]. Initial growth is best in dense shade with medium litter on the soil, but when seedlings get older, growth is best in full sunlight [19,30,43].  Initial growth of California red fir seedlings is slow, 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) in the first 2 to 4 years [5,24,54].  Laacke [43] stated that the long-standing assumption of slow growth for the first 20 to 30 years may be invalid.  It can take between 10 and 25 years for California red fir to reach breast height [32].  Following the initial slow juvenile growth stage is a fairly long period of rapid growth and, eventually, an extended period of slower growth [32].  Saplings greater than 10 years of age reach full growth potential after release from suppression [6]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : California red fir grows best in areas with cold, wet winters and warm, dry summers [45,50,54].  The growing season is short, with snow often on the ground in July [6,7,35,48].  Annual precipitation ranges from 33 to 64 inches (820-1,600 mm), most of which occurs between October and March as snow [6,7,43,54].  Snowpack is usually between 8 and 13 feet (2.5-4 m) [6,54]. California red fir commonly grows on soils with a pH range of 5.0 to 6.1 [50].  It occurs on deep sandy loams and shallower soils of moraines [5].  California red fir will sometimes grow on nutrient-poor Entisols or Inceptisols but usually grows on soils that are more nutrient-rich, coarse, and well-drained but moist [7,35,65].  California red fir is sensitive to poorly drained soils [44].  Shasta red fir is more common on northern aspects but occurs equally on all slopes [4]. Shasta red fir occupies the elevational zone below mountain hemlock and above white fir [1,3,24,27].  The elevations at which California red fir occurs in different parts of its range are listed below [6,43,44,50]: Location                          feet              meters Klamath and Coast ranges       4,500-5,500        1,370-1,675 Siskiyou Mountains   and southern Cascade Range   4,590-5,900        1,400-1,800 northern Sierra Nevada         5,940-7,920        1,800-2,400 southern Sierra Nevada         7,000-9,000        2,200-3,000 Canopy associates of California or Shasta red fir not mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence are giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana), Washoe pine (Pinus washoensis), noble fir, and foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) [1,2,4,35,53].  Understory species differ greatly in different habitats [14].  Associated shrubs include thinleaf huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), currant (Ribes spp.), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilius), huckleberry oak (Quercus vaccinifolia), Sadler oak (Quercus sadleriana), and pinemat manzanita (Arctostaphylos nevadensis) [4,43,50,55].  Associated herbaceous species include sedges (Carex spp.), lupine (Lupinus spp.), beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax), Brewer's goldaster (Chrysopsis breweri), lousewort (Pedicularis semibarbata), hairstem gayophytum (Gayophytum ramosissimum), whitevein pyrola (Pyrola picta), and monardella (Monardella spp.) [4,50,55].  Lichens (Evernia and Vulpina spp.) also occur in California red fir forests [50]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Stands of California red fir are typically even-aged [5,31,54,66]. California red fir forests are a climax vegetation type [36,43,48].  In areas where California red fir grows under a closed canopy of lodgepole pine, it eventually becomes the climax species [5].  Shasta red fir is a late seral or climax community dominant, depending on its associates [4,24,43]. In mixed conifer forests, California red fir establishes well in openings and after disturbances [65].  Natural regeneration or seedling or sapling release from suppression occurs in small openings created by the death of a few trees or in large openings created by fire, insects, or wind [5,66].  California and Shasta red fir are moderately shade tolerant [3,8,24]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : California red fir cones open and are pollinated in May and early June [26,43,64].  Cones ripen in August [26,64].  Seed dispersal occurs in mid-October when cones begin to disintegrate [30,44,64].  The large, winged seeds are released through the fall and winter [26,45]. Shasta red fir cones open and are pollinated in mid- to late June, and cones ripen in late September.  Seed dispersal occurs in late September to mid-October [26,64].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Fires in high-elevation California red fir forests are generally not as intense as those in the Rocky Mountains [38] and are typically less intense than those at lower elevations [39,71].  This may be a result of low annual fuel accumulation because of the short growing season [38,39].  Fire has an important role in Sierra Nevada conifer forests, particularly in the successional relationship between California red fir and lodgepole pine [5,38].  Fire creates canopy openings by killing mature lodgepole pine and some mature California red fir.  Where lodgepole pine occurs under a California red fir canopy, it is eventually succeeded by California red fir [5].  The estimated fire frequency ranges from 10 to 65 years [5,66]. Crown fires are uncommon in California red fir stands [38].  Fires normally spread slowly and are seldom very destructive because of the nature of surface fuels and the prevalence of natural terrain breaks [38,39,71].  The fire hazard in California red fir forests is lower than in middle elevation, mixed-conifer forests [37].  Erosion problems did not occur after a prescribed burn in a high-elevation California red fir stand at Kings Canyon National Park [37]. The bark of older California red fir is thick and fire resistant [41]. The needles and branch tips are resistant to fire [30]. The fire interval for Shasta red fir is 70 to 130 years [2].  Fires are usually patchy and of low severity.  Stand-replacing fires are rare [2]. Shasta red fir can tolerate occasional light fires [3].  Shasta red fir retains its lower branches when not shaded out, which increases the risk of crown fires [3].  Shasta red fir sheds its needles and naturally prunes its branches where mountain hemlock is the successional climax [3].  Fuel accumulation varies, but decomposition and drying are slow [2]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tree without adventitious-bud root crown    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Seedlings of California red fir are easily killed by fire [71]. Seedlings and saplings are killed by relatively low-intensity fires, but few older California red fir are affected [36,38].  Larger California red fir are killed by severe fires [36,66]. Shasta red fir sustains moderate damage from light-severity fires but is often killed by moderate-severity fires [3]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : NO-ENTRY
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : 
A fall prescribed fire in the Tharp Creek Watershed of Sequoia National
Park produced 55.6% average annual California red fir mortality on a white
fir-mixed conifer site monitored for 5 years after fire.  Mortality was
concentrated in the subcanopy. The fire burned from 23 to 26 October 1990. 
Relative humidity during the day was 21% to 30% and at night was 30% to 40%.
Fuel moisture levels in the litter and duff averaged 28%.  For 100-hour and
1,000-hour fuels, moisture levels were 14% and 64%, respectively.  At the
time of ignition, air temperatures were 50 to 61 F (10-16 C, and winds were
calm.  The fire was a combination of backing and strip head fires with flame
lengths of 0.16 to 7.9 feet (0.05-2.4 m).  One-hour, 10-hour, and 100-hour
fuels were reduced by 96%, 77%, and 60%, respectively.  Tree (≥4.6 feet (1.4 m))
mortality was evaluated before and after fire as well as from an unburned
reference site. Basal areas were also monitored before and after the fire.
California red fir showed no change in mean basal area on the burned site
before or after the fire [72].  For more information, see the entire
Research Paper by Mutch and Parsons [72].
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : 
Lightning-ignited fires in higher elevation Sierra Nevada forests are
usually less than 1 acre (0.4 ha) in size and burn for only a few days.
There have been several fires, however, that burned considerable acreage
over the course of several months.  None of these fires became a control
problem or burned intensely [38].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Abies magnifica
REFERENCES :  1.  Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. 1984. Timberline: Mountain and        arctic forest frontiers. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers. 304 p.  [339]  2.  Atzet, Thomas; McCrimmon, Lisa A. 1990. Preliminary plant associations        of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain Province. Grants Pass, OR: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Siskiyou National Forest. 330        p.  [12977]  3.  Atzet, Thomas; Wheeler, David L. 1982. Historical and ecological        perspectives on fire activity in the Klamath Geological Province of the        Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests. Portland, OR: U.S. Department        of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 16 p.  [6252]  4.  Atzet, Thomas; Wheeler, David L. 1984. Preliminary plant associations of        the Siskiyou Mountain Province. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 278 p.  [9351]  5.  Bancroft, Larry. 1979. Fire management plan: Sequoia and Kings Canyon        National Parks. San Francisco, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior,        National Park Service, Western Region. 190 p.  [11887]  6.  Barbour, Michael G. 1988. Californian upland forests and woodlands. In:        Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. North American        terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press:        131-164.  [13880]  7.  Barbour, M.G.; Berg, N. H.; Kittel, G. F.; Kunz, M. E. 1991. Snowpack        and the distribution of a major vegetation ecotone in the Sierra Nevada        of California. Journal of Biogeography. 18(2): 141-149.  [14874]  8.  Barbour, M. G.; Pavlik, B. M.; Antos, J. A. 1990. Seedling growth and        survival of red and white fir in a Sierra Nevada ecotone. American        Journal of Botany. 77(7): 927-938.  [11881]  9.  Beier, Paul. 1989. Use of habitat by mountain beaver in the Sierra        Nevada. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(3): 649-654.  [8409] 10.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals,        reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's        associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p.        [434] 11.  Ralston, Robert Dean. 1960. The structure and ecology of the north slope        juniper stands of the Little Missouri Badlands. Salt Lake City, UT:        University of Utah. 85 p. Thesis.  [192] 12.  Burcham, L. T. 1959. Planned burning as a management practice for        California wild lands. In: Proceedings, 59th annual meeting of the        Society of American Foresters: 180-185.  [17037] 13.  Byler, James W. 1978. The pest damage inventory in California. In:        Symposium on Dwarf Mistletoe Control Through Forest Management; 1978        April 11 - April 13; Berkeley, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-31. Berkeley, CA:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest        and Range Experiment Station: 162-171.  [17973] 14.  Clary, Warren P. 1983. Overstory-understory relationships: spruce-fir        forests. In: Bartlett, E. T.; Betters, David R., eds.        Overstory-understory relationships in Western forests. Western Regional        Research Publication No. 1. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University        Experiment Station: 9-12.  [3310] 15.  Wagtendonk, Jan W. van. 1977. Fire management in the Yosemite        mixed-conifer ecosystem. In: Mooney, Harold A.; conrad, C. Eugene,        technical coordinators. Proc. of the symp. on the environmental        consequences of fire and fuel management in Mediterranean ecosystems;        1977 August 1-5; Palo Alto, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-3. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 459-463.  [4895] 16.  DeNitto, Gregg A. 1989. 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Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of        Forest Resources; Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 113-137.        [11894] 18.  Egeline, Steve. 1980. Wildlife relationships and forest planning. In:        DeGraaf, Richard M., technical coordinator. Management of western        forests and grasslands for nongame birds; 1980 February 11-14; Salt Lake        City, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-86. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station: 379-389.  [17915] 19.  Emmingham, W. H. 1972. Conifer growth and plant distribution under        different light environments in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern        Oregon. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 50 p. Thesis.  [9651] 20.  Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and        Canada. 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Ministry of Forestry,        Information Service Branch: 133-139.  [7918] 29.  Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others].        1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range        ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p.  [998] 30.  Gordon, Donald T. 1970. Natural regeneration of white and red        fir...influence of several factors. Research Paper PSW-58. Berkeley, CA:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest        and Range Experiment Station. 32 p.  [12462] 31.  Gordon, Donald T. 1978. California red fir literature: some corrections        and comments. Forest Science. 24(1): 52-56.  [13164] 32.  Harrington, Constance A.; Murray, Marshall D. 1982. Patterns of height        growth in western true firs. In: Oliver, Chadwick Dearing; Kenady, Reid        M., eds. 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