Family: Pinaceae | Genus: ABIES
type : Evergreen, Trees
sun exposure : Full Sun, Partial Shade
water : Regular Water, Moderate Water
Plant Details

Firs are handsome, erect, symmetrical trees with branches in regularly spaced whorls. Needles are short (mostly in the 1- to 2 inches range) and closely set along the branches; they're often banded white on the undersides. Attractive cones of most types grow 25 inches long.

Many people confuse firs with spruces (Picea), but the two are easily distinguished. Fir needles are typically soft and pull cleanly from the stem; spruce needles have sharp points and pull off with a piece of stalk. Also, fir cones stand upright, while spruce cones hang down.

With the exception of the Appalachian region, the South is generally a difficult environment for firs. They dislike summer heat and drought and heavy, poorly drained soils. Success depends on having rich, deep, well-drained soil, providing light shade in the afternoon, and replenishing mulch regularly to keep roots moist and cool. Firs are popular Christmas trees, both live and cut.

balsam fir

abies balsamea balsamea

  • Zone US; USDA 6.
  • Native to Northeast.
  • Pyramidal tree to 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide; 12- to 1 inches-long, dark green needles.
  • Legendary fragrance makes it a favorite for Christmas trees, wreaths.
  • Use dwarf 'Nana' in rock gardens, containers.

canaan fir

abies balsamea phanerolepis

  • Zone US; USDA 6.
  • Native to the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Medium-size, growing 4055 feet tall and 2025 feet wide with dark to blue-green foliage, owing to silver line on the - to 1 inches-long needles.
  • Desirable for its adaptability to seasonally wet soil, but it thrives where soil is moist year-round.
  • Grown for Christmas trees but deserves a place in the garden.

white fir

abies concolor

  • Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7.
  • Native to mountain regions of West and Southwest but tolerates hot, humid summers better than most firs.
  • Grows 5070 feet tall and 15 feet wide in gardens.
  • Bluish green, 1- to 2 inches-long needles.
  • Candicans is bluish white.

japanese fir, momi fir

abies firma

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to Japan.
  • Broadly pyramidal to 4050 feet tall and about half as wide, with branches held slightly above horizontal.
  • Needles are 11 inches long, dark green above, lighter beneath; unlike needles of other firs, they are very sharp at the tips.
  • Can tolerate hot, moist climates.

fraser fir, southern fir

abies fraseri

  • Zone US; USDA 6.
  • Native to higher, cooler elevations of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Attractive pyramidal tree resembling Abies balsamea in both looks and fragrance.
  • Widely grown as a Christmas tree where summers are not too hot.

nikko fir

abies homolepis

  • Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7.
  • Native to Japan.
  • Broad, dense, rather formal-looking fir to 80 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
  • Dark green, 12- to 1 inches needles are densely arranged and point toward ends of branches.
  • Adapted to warm, moist regions.
  • Prostrata is a low, spreading form that reaches 510 feet tall and wide in 10 years.

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