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
Abies alba range.svg
Distribution map
  • Abies argentea Chambray
  • Abies baldensis (Zuccagni) Zucc. ex Nyman
  • Abies candicans Fisch. ex Endl.
  • Abies chlorocarpa Purk. ex Nyman
  • Abies duplex Hormuz. ex Beissn.
  • Abies metensis Gordon
  • Abies miniata Knight ex Gordon
  • Abies minor Gilib.
  • Abies nobilis A.Dietr.
  • Abies pardei Gaussen
  • Abies rinzii K.Koch
  • Abies taxifolia Duhamel
  • Abies taxifolia Desf.
  • Abies taxifolia Raf.
  • Abies tenuirifolia Beissn.
  • Abies vulgaris Poir.
  • Peuce abies Rich.
  • Picea kukunaria Wender.
  • Picea metensis Gordon
  • Picea pectinata (Lam.) Loudon
  • Picea pyramidalis Gordon
  • Picea rinzi Gordon
  • Picea tenuifolia Beissn.
  • Pinus baldensis Zuccagni
  • Pinus heterophylla K.Koch
  • Pinus lucida Salisb.
  • Pinus pectinata Lam.
  • Pinus picea L.

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 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


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] and to have cardioprotective effect.[8] Silver fir wood extract was found to reduce the post-prandial glycemic response (concentration of sugar in the blood after the meal).[9] 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[citation needed]. The wood is strong, lightweight, light-coloured, finegrained, even-textured and longfibered. The timber is mainly used as construction wood, furniture, plywood, pulpwood and paper manufacture.[10]

See also[edit]

Abies amabilis (Pacific Silver Fir)


  1. ^ a b Farjon, A. (2014). "Abies alba". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Abies alba". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 12 Oct 2016 – via The Plant List. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gualtiero Simonetti (1990). Stanley Schuler, ed. Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-73489-X. 
  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. ^ Tavčar Benković, Eva; Grohar, Tina; Žigon, Dušan; Švajger, Urban; Janeš, Damjan; Kreft, Samo; Štrukelj, Borut (2014). "Chemical composition of the silver fir (Abies alba) bark extract Abigenol® and its antioxidant activity". Industrial Crops and Products. 52: 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. ^ Drevenšek, Gorazd; Lunder, Mojca; Tavčar Benković, Eva; Mikelj, Ana; Štrukelj, Borut; Kreft, Samo. "Silver fir (Abies alba) trunk extract protects guinea pig arteries from impaired functional responses and morphology due to an atherogenic diet". Phytomedicine. 22: 856–861. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2015.06.004. 
  8. ^ Drevenšek G, Lunder M, Benković ET, Štrukelj B, Kreft S. Cardioprotective effects of silver fir (Abies alba) extract in ischemic-reperfused isolated rat hearts. Food Nutr Res. 2016 Oct 17;60:29623. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v60.29623.
  9. ^ Debeljak, J.; Ferk, P.; Čokolič, M.; Zavratnik, A.; Tavč Benković, E.; Kreft, S.; Štrukelj, B.: Randomised, double blind, cross-over, placebo and active controlled human pharmacodynamic study on the influence of silver fir wood extract (Belinal) on post-prandial glycemic response. Die Pharmazie - An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Volume 71, Number 10, October 2016, pp. 566-569(4)
  10. ^ Wolf, Heino. "Silver fir - Abies alba" (PDF). EUFORGEN Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use. 
  • Kunkar, Alp; Kunkar, Ennio. Le piante officinali della Calabria (in Italian). Laruffa Editore. ISBN 88-7221-140-9. 

External links[edit]