Abies alba

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Abies alba
Abies alba Wisła 1.jpg
Abies alba in Silesian Beskids, Poland
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Abies
Species: A. alba
Binomial name
Abies alba
Mill., 1768

A. nobilis A.Dietr.
A. picea (L.) Lindl.
A. excelsa Wender.
A. pectinata (Lam.) Lam. & DC.[2]

Abies alba, the European silver fir or silver fir,[3] is a fir native to the mountains of Europe, from the Pyrenees north to Normandy, east to the Alps and the Carpathians, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and south to southern Italy, Bulgaria and northern Greece.[1]

Cones on the top of Abies alba tree
Illustration of several parts of the Abies alba
Cone and seeds of Abies alba
This map showing natural distribution in Europe of Abies alba


Abies alba is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) (exceptionally 60 metres (200 ft)) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in). The largest measured tree was 68 m tall and had a trunk diameter of 3.8 metres (12 ft). It occurs at altitudes of 300–1,700 metres (980–5,580 ft) (mainly over 500 metres (1,600 ft)), on mountains with a rainfall of over 1,000 millimetres (39 in).[citation needed]

The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1.8–3 centimetres (0.71–1.18 in) long and 2 millimetres (0.079 in) wide by 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) 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 centimetres (3.5–6.7 in) long and 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) broad, with about 150-200 scales, each scale with an exserted bract and two winged seeds; they disintegrate when mature to release the seeds.[citation needed] The wood is white, leading to the species name "alba".[3]

It tends to forms woods with other firs and beeches.[3] It is closely related to Bulgarian fir (Abies borisiiregis) further to the southeast in the Balkan Peninsula, Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo) of Spain and Morocco and Sicilian fir (Abies nebrodensis) in Sicily, differing from these and other related Euro-Mediterranean firs in the sparser foliage, with the leaves spread either side of the shoot, leaving the shoot readily visible from above. Some botanists treat Bulgarian fir and Sicilian fir as varieties of silver fir, as A. alba var. acutifolia and A. alba var. nebrodensis respectively.[citation needed]


Silver fir is an important component species in the Dinaric calcareous Silver Fir forest in the western Balkan Peninsula.[citation needed]

Its cone scales are eaten by the caterpillars of the tortrix moth Cydia illutana, while C. duplicana feeds on the bark around injuries or canker.[citation needed]


The bark and wood of silver fir are rich in antioxidative polyphenols.[4] Six phenolic acids were identified (gallic, homovanillic, protocatehuic, p-hydroxybenzoic, vanillic and p-coumaric), three flavonoids (catechin, epicatechin and catechin tetramethyl eter) and four lignans (taxiresinol, 7-(2-methyl-3,4-dihydroxytetrahydropyran-5-yloxy)-taxiresinol, secoisolariciresinol and laricinresinol).[5]


A resinous essential oil can be extracted. This pine-scented oil has soothing qualities, and is used in perfumes, bath products, and aerosol inhalants.[3] Its branches (including the leaves, bark and wood) were used for production of spruce beer.[6] The extract from the trunk was shown to prevent atherosclerosis.[7] 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.[citation needed]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Abies alba". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2609691
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Gualtiero Simonetti (1990). Stanley Schuler, ed. Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-73489-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Vasincu A, Creţu E, Geangalău I, Amalinei RL, Miron A. Polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity of an extractive fraction from Abies alba bark.Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2013 Apr-Jun;117(2):545-50.
  5. Eva Tavčar Benković, Tina Grohar, Dušan Žigon, Urban Švajger, Damjan Janeš, Samo Kreft, Borut Štrukelj, Chemical composition of the silver fir (Abies alba) bark extract Abigenol® and its antioxidant activity, Industrial Crops and Products, Volume 52, January 2014, Pages 23-28 doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2013.10.005
  6. London Medical Gazette, September 23, 1837, page 935: https://books.google.si/books?id=TPQaAQAAMAAJ
  7. Gorazd Drevenšek, Mojca Lunder, Eva Tavčar Benković, Ana Mikelj, Borut Štrukelj, Samo Kreft, Silver fir (Abies alba) trunk extract protects guinea pig arteries from impaired functional responses and morphology due to an atherogenic diet, Phytomedicine, Available online 25 June 2015, ISSN 0944-7113, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2015.06.004. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S094471131500183X)
  • Kunkar, Alp; Kunkar, Ennio. Le piante officinali della Calabria (in italiano). Laruffa Editore. ISBN 88-7221-140-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links