|Abies alba subsp. var.||Silver Fir, European Silver fir|
Abies alba - Silver Fir, European Silver fir (syn. A. pectinata). Columnar tree having dark green leaves, the undersides of which are silver, up to 1 inch (2.5cm) long. The leaves are in a v-shape arrangement on the shoots. Cones are cylindrical and yellow-green, then turn brown as they ripen to 4-6 inches (10-15cm) with protruding bracts.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Tree, 100-200 ft.: trunk 6-8 ft. in diam.: Ivs. flat, distichpusly spreading, dark green and lustrous above, silvery white below: cones slender, cylindrical, light green to dark purple, 5-6 in. long; bracts slightly longer than their scales. Mts. of Cent, and S. Eu., often gregarious.—Wood esteemed and much used; yields Strasburg turpentine. Dwarf forms, with erect and pendulous and with much abbreviated branches, are common in gardens. Not perfectly hardy in New England.
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Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil1 though it tolerates most soils except infertile sands and peats1181. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil, with a pH down to about 5, and a north-facing slopeRH. Plants are very shade tolerant and this species has often been used to underplant in forests1181, but growth is slower in dense shade81. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution1. Requires a generous rainfall and a sheltered position1181. Intolerant of windy sites81. The silver fir is a very hardy plant when dormant but it comes into growth in April and is then susceptible to damage by late frosts and aphis185238. This species is particularly subject to aphis infestation in many parts of the country11, and is also prone to dieback and rust caused by fungal infections238. Trees are slow growing for the first few years but from the age of around 6 years growth accelerates and height increases of 1 metre a year are not uncommon185. Grows best in moist valleys in Scotland11 and in S.W. England where it often self-sows. This species also thrives in E. Anglia17. Another report says that this species is not happy in the hot, dry, Lower Thames Valley, and does not thrive in many low-lying and frosty parts of southern England11. It has been planted as a timber tree in northern and western Europe50. It is also commonly used as a 'Christmas tree'61RH. This tree is notably resistant to honey fungus1181RH. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, preferably between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistanceRH. Unlike most species of conifers, this tree can be coppiced and will regenerate from the stump126. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorlyRH. They hybridize freely with other members of this genusRH. The cultivar 'Pendula' used to be widely planted for ornament, shelter and timber but because it is now susceptible to damage by Adelges nordmannianae it is seldom planted. Research is going on (1975) to find provenances that are resistant185.
Seed - sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March78. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 - 8 weeks78. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn80113. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored113. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre78 whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position80.
Pests and diseases
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