Santa Lucia Fir Abies bracteata

The Santa Lucia Fir is the rarest fir in the United States and perhaps the world as it only occurs in limited groves in the Santa Lucia Mountains. This deep green tree has a easy to recognize conical shape with an extended tip at the top. Mature trees can range between 60 and 110 feet tall and are found between 2000 and 5150 feet elevation (There are some just off the summit of Cone Peak 5155 feet high). Stiff needles are 2 inches long and sharp. The unique cone stand erect on the branch with 2 inch long bracts extending from the scales, thus its other common name — Bristlecone Fir.

Santa Lucia Fir on the side of Cone Peak
A Santa Lucia Fir on the side of Cone Peak.

Santa Lucia Fir Needles
The 2 inch long deep green needles are stiff, flat, and sharp.

Santa Lucia Fir Needle underside
The underside of the needle has two white stripes or bands of stomates.

Santa Lucia Fir female seed cones
Santa Lucia Fir seed cones are the most unusual of the Fir genus. The femaie seed cones only occur on the top few branches of the tree.

Santa Lucia Fir female seed cone
Two inch long bracts extend from each scale of the seed cone.

Santa Lucia Fir male pollen cones
Santa Lucia Fir male pollen cones.

Santa Lucia Fir stand
Santa Lucia Fir grove from a distance. The conical shape and deep green color make them easy to see from afar. The stand in mixed with Sugar Pine, Canyon Live Oak, and Colter Pine.

Santa Lucia Firs
Santa Lucia Firs are found alone or in small groves usually intermix with a number of other species. They are endemic to Santa Lucia Mountains.

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