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Common Silver Fir Abies alba

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
AY-bees AL-ba
Description

Silver fir is a large, needled evergreen in the Pinaceae (pine) family that is found growing in higher altitude forests in Europe where it was used as a popular Christmas tree. This conifer has a long life-span and is the largest tree of the Abies genus.

Silver fir is tolerant of some shade and it prefers rich deep well-drained soil, though it grows in a wide range of pH and soil types.  It forms a deep taproot and provides stability to surrounding soils.  While it tolerates cold fairly well, early spring frosts can damage needles.  This tree is sensitive to air pollution.

The silvery-white needles resemble teeth on a comb add interesting contrast in the landscape, but this tree gets quite large so be sure to have room for its mature size. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insects and fungi can attack stressed trees.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Green Spiral'
  • 'Pendula'
    Pendulous habit
  • 'Pryamidalis'
  • 'Tortuosa'
'Green Spiral', 'Pendula', 'Pryamidalis', 'Tortuosa'
Tags:
#evergreen#silver leaves#large tree#conifer#needled evergreen#long lifespan#evergreen tree#gray-green leaves#Christmas trees#woodland garden#air pollution intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Green Spiral'
  • 'Pendula'
    Pendulous habit
  • 'Pryamidalis'
  • 'Tortuosa'
'Green Spiral', 'Pendula', 'Pryamidalis', 'Tortuosa'
Tags:
#evergreen#silver leaves#large tree#conifer#needled evergreen#long lifespan#evergreen tree#gray-green leaves#Christmas trees#woodland garden#air pollution intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Abies
    Species:
    alba
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Lumber used for construction and furniture.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plant has erect cones which are 4"-7" long 1"-2" wide with 100-200 scales containing two winged seeds. Cones start out bronze-green and disintegrate as they turn dark brown at maturity.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has "leaves" that are needle-like, flattened 3/4"-1" long, and 0.8" wide with a notch at the tip. Needles are spaced regularly along branches in two groups pointing toward the branch tip. There are two stomatal lines on the underside. Needles appear white or silver when viewed from afar.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Smooth
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Square
    Bark Description:
    The bark is dark gray and smooth with resin blisters and square plates when mature. The stems are scaly though.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are gray with a scaly texture. The older stems are brown, rough and pubescent.