Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service

Engelmann Spruce - Alpine Fir Forests

Desert scene displaying dry, rocky, shrubs, and cactuses. Englemann spruce (Picea engelmannii). Photo by Max Licher at swbiodiversity.org.

Mountain scene displaying lush forest meadow and yellow flowers. Englemann spruce (Picea engelmannii) cones. Photo by Susan McDougal, USDA PLANTS.

These forests occur at elevations above 10,000 feet. The dominant plants come from the Rocky Mountains. The trees grow in evenly spaced stands with 50-90 percent canopy cover. Deciduous broad-leaved trees grow in irregular patches throughout the forest, but are especially common after fire or temporary openings in the coniferous canopy. Ground cover is often sparse or absent. Englemann spruce (Picea engelmannii), blue spruce (P. pungens), and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) are the most important species. These forests occur only in the Pinaleno Mountains and occupy only about 600 acres of the mountain’s summit. The Mount Graham red squirrel, an endangered species, makes its home in this forest.

Further Reading

Bennett, P.S., M.R. Kunzmann and L.A. Graham. 2004. Descriptions of Arizona vegetation represented on the gap vegetation map (PDF).