Fir

FirFir — Firs (Abies) are a genus of between 45-55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. All are trees, reaching heights of 10-80 m (30-260 ft) tall and trunk diameters of 0.5-4 m (2-12 ft) when mature. Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needle-like leaves, attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup; and by erect, cylindrical cones 5-25 cm (2-10 in) long that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. Identification of the species is based on the size and arrangement of the leaves, the size and shape of the cones, and whether the bract scales of the cones are long and exserted, or short and hidden inside the cone. They are most closely related to the cedars (Cedrus). Firs are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range.

The wood of most firs is considered unsuitable for general timber use, and is often used as pulp or for the manufacture of plywood and rough timber. Nordmann Fir, Noble Fir, Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are very popular Christmas trees, generally considered to be the best trees for this purpose, with aromatic foliage that does not shed many needles on drying out. Many are also very decorative garden trees, notably Korean Fir and Fraser Fir, which produce brightly coloured cones even when very young, still only 1-2 m (3-6 ft) tall.

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