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ABIES alba

Image of Abies alba

James H. Schutte

Family

Pinaceae

Botanical Name

ABIES alba

Plant Common Name

European Silver Fir, Silver Fir

General Description

The tall European silver fir reaches great heights with age. Young trees were traditionally used as Christmas trees in Central Europe before North American fir species were introduced to the market. The pyramidal young trees develop wider, more flattened canopies as they grow. They also become enormous. Populations of grand specimens exist throughout the southern mountains of Europe, from the Pyrennes eastward to the Alps and into the Caucusus.

The flattened needles of this fragrant fir are held horizontally on trees growing in partial sun and erect on those grown in full sun. They are glossy and dark green with silvery gray bands on their undersides. Small male cones of pinkish violet are produced alongside large, cylindrical female cones that turn from yellow-green to sienna. Mature trees develop plates along the otherwise smooth gray bark of the trunk.

Grow European silver fir in full to partial sun and fertile, moist, acid to neutral soil with good drainage. Trees grown in less sun attain more irregular, weeping branch habits. Plant as a large specimen tree for large, open spaces. The cultivar, 'Pyramidalis', is a denser, more narrowly pyramidal form that's better suited to manicured landscapes.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    80'-130' / 24.4m - 39.6m

  • Width

    12'-20' / 3.7m - 6.1m

  • Native To

    Europe, Southern Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray, Slate Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No