Common Fir
(Abies alba)



distribution map

The  leaves are rigid, needle-like and short, only 1.2-3 cm long. They are arranged in two rows, the lower spreading horizontally, the upper, shorter and pointing upwards. They are notched at the tip, dark shining green above and with two white stripes below. They are attached to the stem and leave a circular scar when they fall.

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Fir is an introduced, evergreen tree, up to 60m in height, with smooth grey bark which is scaly on old trees. It is planted as an ornamental tree and thrives particularly in Scottish Highland valleys.

The cones are cylindrical, 10-14 cm long: they stand erect on top of the branches.

The cones are made of woody scales and there are bracts which project between them with their tips turned down.

The scales of the cones fall at the same time as the seeds in autumn leaving a bare stalk.


  • The needles are often attacked by aphids, which can badly damage or kill the tree, hence they are rarely grown for timber in Britain.

  • The wood is soft, light and free from resin. It is used for furniture and box-making.

  • Large old trees have unmistakable, gaunt 'crow's-nests' at the top, held high above surrounding trees.

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