In the wild, the trees are tall, beautifully symmetrical and grow to over 200 feet in height. The bark is smooth with resin blisters when young and changes to brownish-gray plates with age. The needles are roughly 4-sided (similar to spruce), over 1 inch long, bluish-green but appearing silver because of 2 white rows of stomata on the underside and 1-2 rows on the upper surface. The needles are generally twisted upward so that the lower surface of branches are exposed.
Fraser fir is a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree which reaches a maximum height of about 80 feet and a diameter of 1-1.5feet.Strong branches are turned slightly upward which gives the tree a compact appearance. Needles are flattened, dark-green with a medial groove on the upper side and two broad silvery-white bands on the lower surface. These bands consist of several rows of stomata (pores). Leaves are 1/2 to one inch long, have a broad circular base, and are usually dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the lower surface. On lower branches, leaves are two-ranked (occurring in two opposite rows). On upper twigs, leaves tend to curl upward forming a more “U-shaped” appearance.
The grand fir is one of the tallest firs, reaching heights of 300 feet. It is easily distinguished from other Pacific Northwest firs by its sprays of lustrous needles in two distinct rows. They are usually horizontally spread so that both the upper and lower sides of the branches are clearly visible. The needles are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with glossy dark green tops and two highly visible white lines of stomata on the undersides.
This wide ranging species grows from 70 to 250 feet tall. The branches are spreading to drooping, the buds sharply pointed and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough and dark brown. The needles are dark green or blue green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch and radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have a sweet fragrance when crushed.
The Nordmann (also known as the Caucasian fir) has gained considerably in popularity as a Christmas tree, thanks mainly to it’s excellent needle holding, glossy deep green foliage and very attractive shape. The needles, which point forward and grow round the branches are soft and thick with white lines on the underside. The bark is smooth and gray.