Abies concolor ‘Compacta’

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Shrub Tree Leaf Characteristics: Needled Evergreen Habit/Form: Columnar Dense Growth Rate: Slow Maintenance: Low Texture: Coarse
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Brown/Copper Purple/Lavender Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Length: > 3 inches Fruit Description: 3-6 inch upright brown-purple cones appear on the branches after the plant is 40 or more years old.
  • Flowers: Flower Description: No Flowers
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Needled Evergreen Leaf Color: Blue Gray/Silver Green Leaf Feel: Prickly Leaf Value To Gardener: Long-lasting Showy Leaf Type: Needles Leaf Shape: Linear Leaf Margin: Entire Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: < 1 inch Leaf Description: This plant has 2-3 inch attractive, powder-blue, sickle-shaped needles. The needles can be a blue-green, bright green, or gray-blue.
  • Bark: Bark Color: Light Gray Bark Description: Smooth ash-gray bark furrows with age.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Lawn Small Space Landscape Theme: Cottage Garden Rock Garden Design Feature: Accent Border Resistance To Challenges: Deer

Abies concolor ‘Compacta’ / Compact White fir

Occasionally, one will see this cultivar listed as Abies concolor ‘Violacea Compacta.’ See below for the plant’s history and justification for listing it in this way.

Abies concolor ‘Compacta’ is an old, slow-growing cultivar of White fir. Time has not left this beauty behind, for no newer cultivar has surpassed the color of its large, powder-Blue sickle-shaped needles. Branching can be irregular, producing a potentially odd-shaped tree in the landscape. Typical rate of growth in most areas is 2 to 3.5 inches (5 – 8.8 cm) a year, resulting is a small tree, around 3 feet (1 m) tall by 2 feet (60 cm) wide after ten years in the landscape.

Ludwig Beissner of Ludwigslust, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany first described and recorded ‘Compacta’ in 1891 in Handbuch der Nadelholzkunde. He originally listed it as A. concolor ‘Violacea Compacta.’ Murray Hornibrook of Matlock Derbyshire, United Kingdom, later introduced it to the nursery trade in 1923. If one were to strictly follow the rules of horticultural nomenclature ‘Violacea Compacta’ should be the correct name used in the nursery trade. However, the name ‘Compacta’ has been used for so long, it would cause a lot of confusion to change it at this point.

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