Firs (Abies) are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range. Firs are most closely related to the cedars (Cedrus); Douglas-firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.
All are trees, reaching heights of 10–80 m (30–260 ft) tall and trunk diameters of 0.5–4 m (2–12 ft) when mature. Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needle-like leaves, attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup; and by erect, cylindrical cones 5–25 cm (2–10 in) long that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. Identification of the species is based on the size and arrangement of the leaves, the size and shape of the cones, and whether the bract scales of the cones are long and exserted, or short and hidden inside the cone.
* Section Balsamea (Taiga|boreal Asia and North America, and high mountains further south)
* Section Abies (central, south & east Europe, Asia Minor)
* Section Momi (east & central Asia, Himalaya, generally at low to moderate altitudes)
* Section Amabilis (Pacific coast mountains, North America and Japan, in high rainfall mountains)
* Section Oiamel (Central Mexico, at high altitude)
A. magnifica, California, USA
* Section Nobilis (western U.S., high altitudes)
* Section Bracteata (California coast)
* Section Incertae sedis
The wood of most firs is considered unsuitable for general timber use, and is often used as pulp or for the manufacture of plywood and rough timber. Because this genus has no insect or decay resistance qualities after logging, it is generally recommended for construction purposes as indoor use only (e.g. indoor drywall framing). This wood left outside can not be expected to last more than 12–18 months depending on the type of climate it is exposed to. It is commonly referred to as several different names which include North American timber, SPF (spruce, pine, fir) and whitewood.
Nordmann Fir, Noble Fir, Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are very popular Christmas trees, generally considered to be the best trees for this purpose, with aromatic foliage that does not shed many needles on drying out. Many are also very decorative garden trees, notably Korean Fir and Fraser Fir, which produce brightly coloured cones even when very young, still only 1–2 m (3–6 ft) tall. Other fir trees can grow anywhere between 30 and 236 feet tall. Fir Tree Appreciation Day is June 18th.
Firs are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera species, including Chionodes abella (recorded on White Fir), Autumnal Moth, Conifer Swift (a pest of Balsam Fir), The Engrailed, Grey Pug, Mottled Umber, Pine Beauty and the tortrix moths Cydia illutana (whose caterpillars are recorded to feed on European Silver Fir cone scales) and C. duplicana (on European Silver Fir bark around injuries or canker).
Abies webbiana or Talispatra is used in Ayurveda as an antitussive drug.
1. ^ a b Schorn, Howard; Wehr, Wesley (1986). "Abies milleri, sp. nov., from the Middle Eocene Klondike Mountain Formation, Republic, Ferry County, Washington". Burke Museum Contributions in Anthropology and Natural History 1: 1–7.
Philips, Roger. Trees of North America and Europe, Random House, Inc., New York ISBN 0-394-50259-0, 1979.
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