Fir (Abies sp.)
With their dense, narrow pyramids of dark-green foliage majestically looming up against the sky, Fir trees are one of the most enduring symbols of the high mountain country of our North and West. While most of the numerous types of Firs insist on the moist coolness of their native mountains, there are some that are suitable for use as ornamental plantings at lower elevations. The Fir family also provides us with a number of favorite Christmas trees each year.
Wood resin in the bark blisters of Balsam Fir is the source of Canada balsam used for making of microscope slides. Resin was sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous Fir knots were once used as torches. A balm of balsam Fir resin was used in Civil War as an external application to the injuries of combat. Balsam Fir boughs are often used for stuffing "pine pillows", with the aromatic foliage serving as a deodorant.
The fine textured dense growth of Fir trees provides shelter and nesting sites for many birds, such as wrens, finches, and robins. They are also popular with squirrels, chipmunks and deer.
The Douglas Fir is not included in this section because while it is called a Fir, it comes from a different plant family.. See page TK.
Summary of Fir Family
|Species of Fir|
|Species of Fir||Size||Basic Requirements|
|White Fir (Abies concolor)||At 20 years height is 15’ and spread is 10’. Mature height is 30 to 50’ with a spread of 15 to 30’. Growth rate is slow to medium at 6 to 9 inches per year.||Zones 3 through 7, Full sun or part shade, most any soil except clay, not too dry, prefers acid soil, can withstand drought best of Firs|
|Korean Fir (Abies koreana)||Mature height is 15 to 30’ with a spread of 10 to 15’.||Zones 4 through 6 (7), Full sun or part shade, most any soil except clay, not too dry, most heat tolerant of Firs|
|Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)||Mature height is 45 to 75’ with a spread of 20 to 25’.||Zones 3 through 5 (6), Full sun or part shade, acid moist soil|
|Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)||Mature height is 30 to 40’ with a spread of 20 to 25’.||Zones 4 through 7, Full sun or part shade, prefers wet soil but can handle dry|