Open the Advanced Search

Silver Fir

Abies alba

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Pinaceae (Pine)
Evergreen tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 metres tall
Gardens, parks, towns, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
Pale yellow, seldom seen. Wind pollinated.
Upright, pale brown cones. The seeds ripen in September and October.
A columnar coniferous tree with flattened needle-like, dark green leaves. The needles (leaves) are banded white beneath.
The flowers are fragrant.
Other Names:
Christmas Tree, Christmas Tree Fir, European Silver Fir, Single Spruce, White Spruce.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Abies alba, also known as Silver Fir, is a species of coniferous tree that is native to central, eastern and southern Europe, as well as the Caucasus Mountains, Turkey and the Altai Mountains of Central Asia. It is a large tree that can grow to over 200 feet in height and up to six feet in diameter. The bark of the Silver Fir is a grayish-brown color, and it is smooth on young trees, becoming rough and scaly with age. The needles of the tree are about one to one and a half inches long and are arranged spirally on the branches. The cones of the tree are about four to eight inches long, and are a brownish-purple color when mature.

Silver Fir is an important tree species for timber production and is also used in landscaping, Christmas trees and paper production. The species is also known to be an important food source for many different animals, including birds and deer. The tree grow on many soil types, but it prefers well-drained soils and cool, moist climates. The species is also well known for its resistance to pests and disease which makes it valuable for production and plantation.

Silver Fir is also a species that has been widely cultivated in many parts of the world. The species is highly valued for its fast growth and adaptability to different climates and soil conditions. Moreover, the wood of Abies alba is often used in the construction of wooden houses and furniture. Also the resin obtained from the tree is used to produce an essential oil that is used in perfumes and cosmetics, and also has medicinal properties.


Silver fir, or Abies alba, is a majestic evergreen tree that is found throughout Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians, and from Scandinavia to the Balkans. It is a coniferous tree that can grow up to 60 meters in height, with a straight trunk and a pyramidal crown. The tree is easily recognized by its silver-grey bark, which is smooth and without any markings. The needles of the silver fir are 3-4 centimeters long, flat, and glossy green on top, with two white bands on the underside. The cones of the silver fir are upright, cylindrical, and can grow up to 20 centimeters long.

Silver fir is a valuable species both ecologically and economically. Its wood is strong and durable, and is used for a variety of purposes, including construction, furniture-making, and paper production. Its foliage provides important habitat and shelter for a wide range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. The tree also plays an important role in maintaining soil stability, preventing erosion, and regulating water flow.

In addition to its ecological and economic importance, silver fir also has a long history of cultural significance. The ancient Greeks and Romans used silver fir in their religious rituals, and the tree was also associated with winter celebrations in pre-Christian Europe. In modern times, silver fir has become a popular Christmas tree, prized for its symmetrical shape and fragrant foliage.

Despite its ecological and cultural significance, silver fir is facing a number of threats in Europe. One of the biggest threats is the loss of habitat due to deforestation and urbanization. Climate change is also a significant threat, as it can lead to changes in precipitation patterns and temperature regimes, which can affect the growth and survival of the tree. In addition, silver fir is vulnerable to a number of pests and diseases, including the European spruce bark beetle and the silver fir woolly adelgid.

To help protect silver fir and other valuable tree species, conservation efforts are underway throughout Europe. These efforts include reforestation, sustainable forest management practices, and genetic conservation programs. In addition, public awareness campaigns are being conducted to increase awareness of the ecological and cultural importance of silver fir and other tree species, and to promote their conservation.

In conclusion, silver fir is a remarkable tree that plays an important ecological, economic, and cultural role in Europe. While it is facing a number of threats, there is hope for the future of this magnificent species, as conservation efforts are underway to protect it and other valuable tree species. By working together, we can ensure that silver fir continues to thrive for generations to come.

More Information about Silver Fir

Here's some additional information about silver fir:


Silver fir is typically found in mountainous areas, growing at elevations between 300 and 2000 meters above sea level. It is often found in mixed forests alongside other tree species, such as beech, oak, and spruce. The tree is tolerant of shade and can grow in a variety of soil types, although it prefers deep, well-drained soils.

The foliage of the silver fir is also important for its role in nutrient cycling. The needles of the tree are high in nitrogen and other nutrients, and when they fall to the forest floor, they help to enrich the soil and support the growth of other plants.


Silver fir is valued for its high-quality timber, which is used in construction, furniture-making, and musical instrument production. The wood is strong, durable, and has a light color with a distinctive grain pattern.

In addition to its commercial uses, silver fir is also used in traditional medicine. The tree has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive problems, and skin conditions.


Conservation efforts for silver fir are primarily focused on ensuring the long-term sustainability of the species. These efforts include reforestation, protection of remaining old-growth forests, and sustainable forest management practices. Genetic conservation programs are also underway to preserve the genetic diversity of the species.

In addition to these efforts, there is also a growing interest in the restoration of silver fir habitats. This involves planting silver fir in areas where the species has been lost due to deforestation or other human activities.

Overall, silver fir is a fascinating and valuable tree species that plays an important ecological, economic, and cultural role in Europe. Through conservation efforts, we can ensure that this species continues to thrive for generations to come.

Some Facts about Silver Fir

Here are some more interesting facts about silver fir:

  • Silver fir is one of the most long-lived tree species in Europe. The tree can live for up to 500 years, and in some cases, even longer.

  • In addition to its ecological and economic value, silver fir has also been used for its aromatic properties. The needles of the tree contain essential oils that have a pleasant scent and have been used in perfumes, soaps, and other products.

  • Silver fir has a strong association with winter and Christmas. In many parts of Europe, it is used as a Christmas tree and is often decorated with lights and ornaments.

  • Silver fir is also an important tree species in traditional European folk medicine. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, arthritis, and skin conditions.

  • The bark of silver fir is smooth and silver-grey in color. This feature is what gives the tree its common name.

  • Silver fir has a deep taproot that allows it to access nutrients and moisture deep in the soil. This feature helps the tree to survive in harsh environments and makes it an important species for reforestation and soil stabilization efforts.

  • The cones of silver fir are an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including birds and squirrels. The seeds of the tree are also edible and have been used by humans as a food source in times of scarcity.

  • Silver fir has been the subject of a number of scientific studies. Research has shown that the tree contains compounds that have potential medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Overall, silver fir is a remarkable tree species with a rich cultural, ecological, and economic history. Through conservation efforts and continued research, we can continue to learn about and appreciate the many benefits that this species provides.


Silver Fir filmed at Rivington Memorial Arboretum, Lancashire on the 5th February 2023.


Music credits
Friendly Day by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map