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The Major North American Conifers With Descriptions

The Most Common Commercial Softwood Trees and Forest Associates


11. Fir, Noble

Nobel Fir
R. Merrilees Illustrator

Noble fir is aptly named, for it is probably the largest of all the firs in terms of diameter, height and wood volume. It was first found by fabled botanist-explorer David Douglas, growing in mountains on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge, where exceptional stands can still be found. It loves these windy sites because it is one of the most windfirm trees, swaying grandly in even the most howling gales of winter.

Source: The Gymnosperm Database, C.J. Earle

12. Fir, Pacific Silver

Pacific Silver Fir
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Pacific silver fir is a major species in the forest cover type Coastal True Fir-Hemlock (Society of American Foresters Type 226). It is also found in the following types: Mountain Hemlock, Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Western Redcedar and Pacific Douglas-Fir.

13. Fir, White

White Fir
R. Merrilees Illustrator
The most common associates of California white fir in the mixed conifer forests of California and Oregon include grand fir (Abies grandis), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), sugar pine (P. lambertiana), Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and California black oak (Quercus kelloggii).

14. Hemlock, Eastern

Eastern Hemlock
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Eastern hemlock is associated in the Northern Forest Region with White Pine, Sugar Maple,Red Spruce, Balsam Fir and Yellow Birch; in the Central and Southern Forest Region with Yellow-Poplar, Northern Red Oak, Red Maple, Eastern White Pine, Fraser Fir and Beech.

15. Hemlock, Western

Western hemlock
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Western hemlock is a component of the redwood forests on the coasts of northern California and adjacent Oregon. In Oregon and western Washington, it is a major constituent of the Picea sitchensis, Tsuga heterophylla, and Abies amabilis Zones and is less important in the Tsuga mertensiana and Mixed-Conifer Zones.

16. Larch, Eastern (tamarack)

R. Merrilees Illustrator
Black spruce (Picea mariana) is usually tamarack's main associate in mixed stands on all sites. The other most common associates include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the boreal region, and northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), balsam fir, black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and red maple (Acer rubrum) on the better organic-soil (swamp) sites in the northern forest region.

17. Larch, Western

Western larch
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Western larch is a long-lived seral species that always grows with other tree species. Young stands sometimes appear to be pure, but other species are in the understory, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) is its most common tree associate. Other common tree associates include: ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) on the lower, drier sites; grand fir (Abies grandis), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), and western white pine (Pinus monticola) on moist sites; and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) in the cool-moist subalpine forests.

18. Pine, Eastern White

White pine
R. Merrilees Illustrator
White pine is a major component of five Society of American Foresters forest cover types: Red Pine (Type 15), White Pine-Northern Red Oak-Red Maple (Type 20), Eastern White Pine (Type 21), White Pine-Hemlock (Type 22), White Pine-Chestnut Oak (Type 51). None of these are climax types, although the White Pine-Hemlock type may just precede the climax hemlock types, and Type 20 is very close to a climax or an alternating type of climax on the sandy outwash plains of New England (42).

19. Pine, Jack

Jack Pine
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Associated tree species, listed in order of presence on dry to mesic sites, include northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), red pine (Pinus resinosa), bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), quaking aspen (P. tremuloides), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), northern red oak Quercus rubra), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), red maple (Acer rubrum), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P. mariana), tamarack (Larix laricina), and balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). In the boreal forest the most common associates are quaking aspen, paper birch, balsam fir, and black spruce. In the northern forest they are northern pin oak, red pine, quaking aspen, paper birch, and balsam fir.

20. Pine, Jeffrey

Jeffery Pine
R. Merrilees Illustrator
Incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens) is the most widespread associate of Jeffrey pine on ultramafic soils. Locally prominent are Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Port-Orford-cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), ponderosa pine, sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), western white pine (P. monticola), knob-cone pine (P. attenuata), Digger pine (P. sabiniana), and Sargent cypress (Cupressus sargentii).

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