British Wildlife Wiki

European Silver Fir Tree - Courtesy of Wikipedia

European Silver Fir (Abies alba) is a fir native to the mountains of Europe, from the Pyrenees north to Normandy, east to the Alps and the Carpathians, and south to southern Italy and northern Serbia, where it intergrades with the closely related Bulgarian Fir. It is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 40–50 m (exceptionally 60 m) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 m. The largest measured tree was 68 m tall and had a trunk diameter of 3.8 m. It occurs at altitudes of 300-1,700 m (mainly over 500 m), on mountains with a rainfall of over 1,000 mm. It was the first fir introduced into Britain in the 1600s.

The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1.8–3 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5 mm thick, glossy dark green above, and with two greenish-white bands of stomata below. The tip of the leaf is usually slightly notched at the tip. The cones are 9–17 cm long and 3–4 cm broad, with about 150-200 scales, each scale with an exserted bract and two winged seeds; they disintegrate when mature to release the seeds.

Silver Fir is the species first used as a Christmas tree, but has been largely replaced by Nordmann Fir (which has denser, more attractive foliage), Norway Spruce (which is much cheaper to grow), and other species. The wood is moderately soft and white, used for general construction and paper manufacture.