Abies abies Rusby
Abies argentea Chambray
Abies baldensis (Zuccagni) Zucc. ex Nyman
Abies candicans Fisch. ex Endl.
Abies chlorocarpa Purk. ex Nyman
Abies duplex Hormuz. ex Beissn.
Abies excelsa Link
Abies metensis Gordon
Abies miniata Knight ex Gordon
Abies minor Gilib.
Abies nobilis A.Dietr.
Abies pardei Gaussen
Abies pectinata (Lam.) DC.
Abies picea (L.) Lindl.
Abies rinzii K.Koch
Abies taxifolia Desf.
Abies taxifolia Duhamel
Abies taxifolia Raf.
Abies tenuirifolia Beissn.
Abies vulgaris Poir.
Peuce abies Rich.
Picea excelsa Wender.
Picea kukunaria Wender.
Picea metensis Gordon
Picea pectinata (Lam.) Loudon
Picea pyramidalis Gordon
Picea rinzi Gordon
Picea tenuifolia Beissn.
Pinus abies Du Roi
Pinus alba (Mill.) Münchh.
Pinus baldensis Zuccagni
Pinus heterophylla K.Koch
Pinus lucida Salisb.
Pinus pectinata Lam.
Pinus picea L.
Common Name: Silver Fir
Mature specimen in Silesian Beskids, Poland.
Photograph by: Crusier
Abies alba is an evergreen tree with a pyramidal crown that becomes flat-topped with age; it can grow 45 - 55 metres tall. The straight, cylindrical bole can be free of branches for most of its height; up to 200 - 260cm in diamete[
An important timber tree in central and western Europe, where it is harvested from the wild, encouraged to grow in semi-natural forests and also cultivated for its timber, which is traded. It has a range of medicinal applications and also provides tannins, essential oil, resin etc. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental and is sometimes used as a 'Christmas tree'.
This tree is the only widespread species of fir in Europe. Its extent of occurrence (EOO), area of occupancy (AOO) and population are beyond any of the thresholds for a threatened category and there is no evidence of continuing decline. In some areas it is probably increasing. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
C. and S. Europe - mountainous areas from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians and Balkan Peninsular
Forests in mountains, at elevations from 1,000 - 1,600 metres.
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Semi-cultivated, Wild
A plant of the temperate zone, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres[
]. The preferred climate is cool temperate, comparatively humid with a mean annual precipitation that is often more than 1,000mm, with abundant snowfall but moderately low temperatures in the winter[
]. It has been planted as a timber tree in northern and western Europe, growing well in moister regions such as Scottish valleys and southwest England[
]. It is a very hardy plant when dormant, but it comes into growth in early Spring and is then susceptible to damage by late frosts[
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil[
] though it tolerates most soils except infertile sands and peats[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil, with a pH down to about 5, and a north-facing slope[
]. Plants are very shade tolerant and this species has often been used to underplant in forests[
], but growth is slower in dense shade[
]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[
]. Requires a generous rainfall and a sheltered position[
]. Intolerant of windy sites[
This species is particularly subject to aphis infestation in many parts of the country[
], and is also prone to dieback and rust caused by fungal infections[
Trees are slow growing for the first few years but from the age of around 6 years growth accelerates and height increases of 1 metre a year are not uncommon[
This tree is notably resistant to honey fungus[
Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, preferably between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[
Unlike most species of conifers, this tree can be coppiced and will regenerate from the stump[
Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[
]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[
The cultivar 'Pendula' used to be widely planted for ornament, shelter and timber but because it is now susceptible to damage by Adelges nordmannianae it is seldom planted. Research is going on (1975) to find provenances that are resistant[
Inner bark - cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[
The buds are antibiotic, antiseptic and balsamic[
The bark is antiseptic and astringent[
]. It can be harvested as required throughout the year[
The leaves are expectorant and a bronchial sedative[
]. They are best harvested in the spring and can be dried for later use[
The resin is antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, eupeptic, expectorant, vasoconstrictor and vulnerary[
Both the leaves and the resin are common ingredients in remedies for colds and coughs, either taken internally or used as an inhalant[
]. The leaves and/or the resin are used in folk medicine to treat bronchitis, cystitis, leucorrhoea, ulcers and flatulent colic[
]. The resin is also used externally in bath extracts, rubbing oils etc for treating rheumatic pains and neuralgia[
Oil of Turpentine, which is obtained from the trunk of the tree, is occasionally used instead of the leaves or the resin. The oil is also rubefacient and can be applied externally in the treatment of neuralgia[
An oleo-resin is obtained from blister-like swellings in the bark[
]. It is harvested in the summer and used fresh, dried or distilled for oil[
]. The resin extracted from it is used in perfumery, medicine and for caulking ships[
]. It is called 'Strasburg Turpentine'[
]. Oil of turpentine is an important solvent in the paint industry[
]. The residue, known as 'rosin oil', is used in making varnishes, lacquers and carbon black (for pigments and ink)[
]. Resin is tapped from trees about 60 - 80 years old in the spring and used for the distillation of oil[
Various parts of the plant yield essential oils and other compounds that are used as ingredients in commercial cosmetic preparations as antimicrobials, antioxidants, perfuming agents and skin conditioners[
An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used as a disinfectant and also in medicine and perfumery[
]. It is a common ingredient in many bath products, giving them their familiar pine scent[
The bark is a source of tannin[
Wood - light, soft, durable, elastic. The timber of this tree is especially sought after for its lightness, it is used for construction, furniture, boxes, pulp etc[
Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse or outdoors in early spring[
]. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 - 8 weeks[
]. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[
]. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre[
] whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position[