Trees to 80m; trunk to 2.2m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark grayish brown, in age becoming thick and deeply furrowed (furrows and ridges about same width) and reddish brown (especially reddish when plates flake off). Branches diverging from trunk at right angles, stiff; twigs reddish brown, finely pubescent for several years. Buds hidden by leaves, tan, ovoid, small, not resinous, apex rounded; basal scales short, broad, equilaterally triangular, pubescent centrally, not resinous, margins entire to crenate, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1--3(--3.5)cm ´ 1.5--2mm, 1-ranked, flexible, proximal portion often appressed to twig for 2--3mm (best seen on abaxial surface of twig), distal portion divergent; cross section flat, with prominent raised midrib abaxially, with or without groove adaxially, or cross section 4-sided on fertile branches; odor pungent, faintly turpentinelike; abaxial surface with 2--4 glaucous bands, each band with (4--)6--7 stomatal rows; adaxial surface bluish green, with 0--2 glaucous bands, each band with 0--7 stomatal rows at midleaf; apex rounded to notched; leaves on fertile branches 4-sided with 4 bands of stomates below; resin canals small, near margins and abaxial epidermal layer. Pollen cones at pollination ± purple, ± red, or reddish brown. Seed cones oblong-cylindric, 10--15 ´ 5--6.5cm, green, red, or purple, overlaid with green bracts, at maturity brown (bracts light-colored and scales dark), sessile, apex rounded; scales ca. 2.5 ´ 3cm, pubescent; bracts exserted and reflexed over scales. Seeds 12 ´ 6mm, body reddish brown; wing slightly longer than body, light brown to straw; cotyledons (4--)5--6(--7). 2 n =24. Mixed coniferous forests; 60--2700m; Calif., Oreg., Wash. See discussion under Abies magnifica.