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Abies alba

(European Silver Fir)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Czech:

Jedle Bělokorá

Common Names in English:

European Silver Fir, Abete-Blanco, Christmas-Tree, Christmastree, Edeltanne, Sapin-Blanc, Silver Fir, Swiss Pine, White Fir

Common Names in French:

Sapin, Sapin Argenté, Sapin Blanc

Common Names in German:

Edeltanne, Gemeine, Pechbaum, Silbertanne, Tanne, Weißtanne, Weisstanne, Weißtanne

Common Names in Hungarian:

Fehér Fenyö, Fejér Fenyö, Fenyöfa, Fésüs Fenyö, Jegenye Fenyöla, Keresztes Fenyö

Common Names in Italian:

Abete Argentato, Abete Bianco

Common Names in Polish:

Jalyca, Jel, Syhla

Common Names in Romanian:

Brad, Brad Nemeş, Brădac, Brădaică, Brădan, Bradău, Brădişor, Brădoaie, Brădoi, Brădui, Brăduleţ, Bread, Buhaci, Cepi, Hăciugă, Haşcă, Il, Nemeş, Pin Alb, Porob, Sihlă, Sîlhă

Common Names in Russian:

Pihta Evropeiskaia

Common Names in Serbian:

Jela, Omora

Common Names in Spanish:

Abeto Blanco


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Family Pinaceae

Trees or rarely shrubs , evergreen or deciduous, monoecious. Branchlets often dimorphic : long branchlets with clearly spirally arranged , sometimes scalelike leaves; short branchlets often reduced to slow growing lateral spurs bearing dense clusters of leaves at apex. Leaves solitary or in bundles of (1 or) 2-5(-8) when basally subtended by a leaf sheath ; leaf blade linear or needlelike, not decurrent. Cones unisexual . Pollen cones solitary or clustered, with numerous spirally arranged microsporophylls ; microsporophyll with 2 microsporangia; pollen usually 2-saccate (nonsaccate in Cedrus, Larix, Pseudotsuga, and most species of Tsuga) . Seed cones erect or pendulous, maturing in 1st, 2nd, or occasionally 3rd year, dehiscent or occasionally indehiscent, with many spirally arranged ovulate scales and bracts; ovulate scales usually smaller than bracts at pollination, with 2 upright ovules adaxially, free or only basally adnate with bracts, maturing into seed scales. Seed scales appressed , woody or leathery, variable in shape and size, with 2 seeds adaxially, persistent or deciduous after cone maturity. Bracts free or adnate basally with seed scales, well developed or rudimentary , exserted or included . Seeds terminally winged (except in some species of Pinus) . Cotyledons 2-18. Germination hypogeal or epigeal. 2n = 24* (almost always) .

Ten or eleven genera and ca. 235 species: N hemisphere; ten genera (two endemic) and 108 species (43 endemic, 24 introduced ) in China.

Species of the Pinaceae are among the most valuable and commercially important plants in the world. Most species are trees, and are often excellent sources of lumber, wood products, and resins; many are cultivated for afforestation and as ornamentals .[1]

Genus Abies

Trees evergreen , crown usually spirelike to conic, sometimes flat to round topped in age. Bark initially thin, smooth , bearing resin blisters, in age furrowed and/or flaking in plates . Branches whorled , irregular internodal branches occasionally produced by epicormic sprouting (growing from a dormant bud) ; short (spur) shoots absent; leaf scars prominent , ± circular to broadly elliptic , flush with twig surface, slightly depressed , or slightly raised evenly all around. Buds ovate or oblong , resinous or not, apex rounded or pointed . Leaves borne singly, persisting 5 or more years, spirally arranged but often proximally twisted so as to appear either 1-ranked (pointing up like toothbrush bristles ) or 2-ranked, sessile, typically constricted and often twisted above the somewhat broadened base , sheath absent; leaves on vegetative branches flattened, frequently grooved adaxially, usually notched to rounded at apex; leaves on fertile branches sometimes appearing 4-sided, upright, sharp-pointed to rounded at apex; resin canals 2. Cones borne on year-old twigs . Pollen cones grouped, ovate or oblong-cylindric, leaving gall-like protuberances after falling, yellow to red, green, blue, or purple. Seed cones maturing in 1 season , erect , ovoid to oblong-cylindric or cylindric , not falling whole but scale by scale, cone axis persisting as an erect "spike" on branch ; scales shed individually, fan-shaped, lacking apophysis and umbo; bracts included to exserted. Seeds winged , the wing-seed juncture bearing resin sac; cotyledons 4--10. x =12.

Species ca. 42: widespread in north temperate regions , North America, Mexico, Central America, Eurasia (s to Himalayas, s China, and Taiwan), n Africa.

In Abies several traditionally accepted species have closely allied sibling species , e.g. , A. balsamea -- A. fraseri, A. bifolia -- A. lasiocarpa, and A. magnifica -- A. procera. Other species may be more distinct morphologically, but many of these still appear to have evolved in geographic isolation without strong reproductive barriers developing. Thus, when distributions of species overlap, introgression between the taxa is the rule ; this may make it difficult to assign certain individuals to a species. In the interests of nomenclatural stability , I have accepted the taxa recognized by the U.S. Forest Service (E.L. Little Jr. 1979). This classification does not recognize varieties based on variations in bract characteristics but recognizes species that perhaps would be treated as varieties in other conifer genera. The only exceptions to this treatment are some necessary changes within A. concolor and A. lasiocarpa. Cases of introgression are discussed under the taxa involved. Some distinct or possibly distinct geographic populations deserve further study and may warrant future taxonomic recognition.

Most North American firs are major components of vegetation, especially in the boreal, Pacific Coast coniferous , and western montane coniferous forests, where they are important for watershed management . They are cut for pulpwood and lumber and, largely from plantations, for Christmas trees . All our species, especially Abies concolor, and several exotics are grown---some more than others---as ornamentals . Firs provide cover , and their leaves are important as food, for various birds and mammals. Species of Abies frequently have a pleasant odor; their foliage has been used as a stuffing material for pillows . Most commercial products with "pine odors" are in fact scented with essential oils distilled from Abies foliage by Russian farmers. A similar oil could be derived from balsam fir in North America.[2]

Physical Description

Habit: Evergreen .

Flowers: Bloom Period: n/a • Flower Color: inconspicuous, none


Size: 12-15' tall.


Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,911 meters (0 to 9,551 feet).[3]


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Culture: Space 20-30' apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 6.1 • Maximum pH: 7.8

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)


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Abies alba apennina Brullo • Abies alba var. pardei (Gaussen) Silba • Abies alba var. podolica R. I. Schröd. • Abies argentea Chambray • Abies baldensis (Zuccagni) Nyman • Abies chlorocarpa Purk. Ex Nyman • Abies excelsa Link • Abies pardei Gaussen • Abies pectinata< /i> (Lam.) Lam. & Dc. • Abies picea (L.) Lindl. • Peuce abies (Du Roi) Rich. • Picea excelsa Wender. • Picea pectinata (Lam.) Loudon • Pinus abies Du Roi • Pinus abies var. pectinata (Lam.) H. Christ • Pinus baldensis Zuccagni • Pinus lucida Salisb. • Scelsi & Spampinato


Publishing author : Mill . Publication : Gard. Dict., ed. 8. n. 1 1768 [16 Apr 1768]

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Abies

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 115 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

A. alba (European Silver Fir) · A. alba f. pendula (European Silver Fir) · A. alba 'Green Spiral' (European Silver Fir) · A. amabilis (Beautiful Fir) · A. balsamea (Balsam Fir) · A. balsamea fraseri (Balsam Fir) · A. balsamea f. hudsonia (Hudsonia Dwarf Silver Fir) · A. balsamea lasiocarpa (Subalpine Fir) · A. balsamea var. nana (Dwarf Balsam Fir) · A. balsamea x sibirica (Balsam Fir) · A. beshanzuensis (Baishan Fir) · A. borisii-regis (King Boris Fir) · A. bracteata (Bristlecone Fir) · A. cephalonica (Greek Fir) · A. cephalonica 'Meyer's Dwarf' (Greek Fir) · A. chensiensis (Shensi Fir) · A. chensiensis chensiensis (Shensi Fir) · A. chensiensis salouenensis (Salween Fir) · A. cilicica (Cilician Fir) · A. concolor (Balsam Fir) · A. concolor var. concolor (White Fir) · A. concolor 'Candicans' (Colorado Fir) · A. concolor 'Gables Weeping' (Gable's Weeping Colorado Fir) · A. concolor 'Green Globe' (Colorado Fir) · A. concolor 'Rockford' (Colorado Fir) · A. delavayi (Delavay's Fir) · A. delavayi fansipanensis (Fansipan Fir) · A. delavayi var. delavayi (Delavay's Silver Fir) · A. delavayi var. motuoensis (Medoc Fir) · A. delavayi var. nukiangensis (Nukiang Fir) · A. densa (Sikkim Fir) · A. fabri (Fabers Fir) · A. fargesii (Farges' Fir) · A. fargesii var. sutchuensis (Farges´ Fir) · A. firma (Japanese Fir) · A. forrestii (Forrest's Fir) · A. forrestii var. georgei (George's Fir) · A. fraseri (Fraser Fir) · A. fraseri 'Franklin' (Fraser Fir) · A. fraseri 'Julian Potts' (Fraser Fir) · A. fraseri 'Klein' (Fraser Fir) · A. grandis (Giant Fir) · A. grandis var. grandis (Grand Fir) · A. grandis x concolor (Giant Fir) · A. guatemalensis (Guatemalan Fir) · A. guatemalensis var. guatemalensis (Guatemalan Fir) · A. holophylla (Manchurian Fir) · A. homolepis (Nikko Fir) · A. homolepis var. homolepis (Nikko Fir) · A. kawakamii (Taiwan Fir) · A. koreana (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Aurea' (Golden Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Gelbbunt' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Goldener Traum' (Golden Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Piccolo' (Fir) · A. koreana 'Prostrate Beauty' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Silberperl' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Silber Mavers' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Silver Show' (Korean Fir) · A. koreana 'Starkers Dwarf' (Korean Fir) · A. lasiocarpa (Alpine Fir) · A. lasiocarpa arizonica var. arizonica (Cork Bark Fir) · A. lasiocarpa var. arizonica (Corkbark Fir) · A. lasiocarpa x homolepis (Balsam Fir) · A. lasiocarpa 'Arizona Compacta' (Cork-Bark Fir) · A. lasiocarpa 'Duflon' (Alpine Fir) · A. lasiocarpa 'Green Globe' (Alpine Fir) · A. magnifica (California Red Fir) · A. magnifica 'Prostrata' (California Red Fir) · A. nebrodensis (Sicilian Fir) · A. nephrolepis (Manchurian Fir) · A. nordmanniana (Caucasian Fir) · A. nordmanniana equi-trojani (Kazdagi Fir) · A. nordmanniana nordmanniana (Bornmuellers Fir) · A. nordmanniana 'Golden Spreader' (Caucasian Fir) · A. nordmanniana 'Tortifolia' (Caucasian Fir) · A. numidica (Algerian Fir) · A. numidica de (Algerian Silver Fir) · A. phanerolepis (Fir) · A. pindrow (Pindrow Fir) · A. pinsapo (Spanish Fir) · A. pinsapo var. pinsapo (Spanish Fir) · A. pinsapo 'Aurea' (Golden Spanish Fir) · A. pinsapo 'Glauca' (Blue Spanish Fir) · A. procera (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Blau Hexe' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Blue Spire' (Fir) · A. procera 'Frijsenborg' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Glauca' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Glauca Prostrata' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'La Graciosa' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Robustifolia' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Sherwoodii' (Noble Fir) · A. procera 'Silver' (Fir) · A. recurvata (Min Fir) · A. recurvata var. ernestii (Chien-Lu Fir) · A. recurvata var. recurvata (Min Fir) · A. religiosa (Sacred Fir) · A. sachalinensis (Sakhalin Fir)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 11, 2007:



  1. Liguo Fu, Nan Li, Thomas S. Elias & Robert R. Mill "Pinaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 4 Page 11. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Richard S. Hunt "Abies". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. Mean = 28.530 meters (93.602 feet), Standard Deviation = 43.860 based on 113,320 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-05-23