Abies alba Mill.

silver fir, European silver fir
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Abies alba
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Abies alba: Broad conical shape of the tree all year round

Broad conical shape of the tree all year roundBranch showing linear leaves in an almost distichous arrangement; note the characteristic whitish colour of the bark, as denoted by its specific epithetBranch (viewed from below) with reddish male cones towards its distal end; pollen has not been dispersed yetTree crown with erect female cones and bare cone axes that remain from cones of the previous year that have lost their scalesBranch with two inmature cones; bract scales are exserted

Abies: Ancient Latin name for fir

albus, -a, -um: white, in reference to the colour of its bark


Habit:Evergreen, monoecious tree up to 30-50 m tall, with a stout columnar trunk; bark ± smooth, whitish; braches whorled, with densely pubescent twigs and a ± conical crown.

Leaves: spirally inserted along the twig but in ± distichous or pectinate arrangement, evergreen, simple, 1.5-3 cm long, linear, flattened, flexible, usually somewhat notched at the tip.

Male cones: axillary, mainly towards the distal end of young branches, subsessile, 1-3 cm long, globose or elongate, reddish or yellowish. Female cones: on uppermost branches, 2-4 cm long, oblong-cylindrical, greenish.

Mature female cones: 10-20 cm long x 3-5 cm in diam., ± cylindrical, erect, disintegrating on the tree when mature; seed scales ± woody, each bearing 2 seeds on its adaxial side; bract scales longer than seed scales, exserted, with a narrow, revolute tip. Seed ovate, with a membranous wing.


Male and female cones appear in spring; female cones mature in autumn of the same year.

Geographic origin

Native to C and S Europe. In Spain, it only grows wild in the Pyrenees.


Its timber is scarcely used nowadays, but used to be much appreciated by ancient Greeks and Romans for house and ship building. Its turpentine has been used in balsamic preparations. It is easily propagated from seeds.

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