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Abies alba

(European Silver fir)

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Abies alba, first described in 1759 by Philip Miller (1691–1771), is commonly known as European or Common Silver fir, and Abeto in the Spanish language.

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Illustration from Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé, Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz, 1885

Description. European Silver fir is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 130 to 165 feet (40 – 50 m), exceptionally to 200 feet (60 m) tall with with a trunk diameter of up to 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. The largest measured tree was 223 feet (68 m) tall and had a trunk diameter of 12.5 feet (3.8 m). Stems are straight, bark gray, scaly on older stems, brown, rough pubescent, buds ovate, resin free or slightly resinous. The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 0.7 to 1.2 inches (1.8 – 3 cm) long and .08 inch (2 mm) wide, glossy dark green above, and with two greenish-white stomatal bands below. The tip of the leaf is usually slightly notched at the tip. The seed cones are 4 to 6 inches (9 – 17 cm) long and 1.2 to 1.5 inches (3 – 4 cm) broad, with about 150-200 scales, 1.1 inches (25 – 30 mm) wide; each scale with an exserted bract and two winged seeds; they disintegrate when mature to release the seeds. Cones are greenish when young turning to dark brown when ripe.

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natural range of Abies alba

Distribution. This species is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe, from the Pyrenees north to Normandy, east to the Alps and the Carpathians, and south to southern Italy and northern Serbia, where it integrates with the closely related Bulgarian fir (Abies borisii-regis). It can be found at elevations of 1,000 – 2,100 feet (300 – 1,700 m), mainly over 1,500 feet (500 m), on mountains with annual rainfall of over 30 inches (1,000 mm).

Attributed from: Chris Earle, The Gymnosperm Database ©2012

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