Abies firma

Common Name: momi fir 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Clay Soil

Culture

Best grown in rich, consistently moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun, but appreciates some part afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Likes moist cool locations, but, unlike most other species of fir, does respectably well in the hot and humid weather conditions of the deep South. Tolerates heavy clay soils. New growth in April is susceptible to damage from late spring frosts.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abies firma, commonly called momi fir or Japanese fir, is a large, aromatic, conical-pyramidal, needled evergreen conifer that typically grows to 100-150’ tall in its native habitat. It is likely to mature to a much smaller height (to 40-60’ tall) in cultivation in the U.S. Branches on younger trees are ascending, but become more horizontal with age. This fir is native to hills and mountain slopes in central to southern Japan from near sea level to about 6,000’ where it grows in a variety of locations on both dry and moist sites. It is the most widely distributed fir in Japan where it is considered to be an important timber tree (flooring, crates, and paper pulp).

Needles (to 1 1.5” long) are strongly two ranked, appearing like a 2-sided comb, forming a wide V shape on the lower twigs. Needles on young trees are tipped by two sharp prickles at the apex. Scaly, rough, fissured bark is gray, but becomes corky as it darkens with age. Flowers appear in April-May. Conical seed cones (to 3.5 to 5” long) emerge green in spring, but mature to yellowish-brown and are erect and showy throughout summer. As is distinctive with the firs, the upright seed cones disintegrate (scales drop) in fall after the seeds ripen, often leaving only the erect central spike of the cone axis. Much smaller cylindrical pollen cones (to 1 1/4" long) droop from the leaf axils.

Genus name is an ancient Latin name for a tree described by Pliny around 77 A.D.

Specific epithet is in reference to the firm needles.

Momi is the Japanese word for fir.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Potential insect pests include bark beetles, spruce budworms, aphids, bagworms and scale. This species appears immune to attack from the balsam woolly adelgid which is a significant problem for some other species of fir. Spider mites may occur in hot conditions. Potential disease problems include cankers, heart rot, root rot, needle rust and twig blight.

Garden Uses

Large specimen fir for the landscape. Screen. Christmas tree. Best fir for growing in the hot and humid conditions of the southeastern U.S.