A Silver Fir shoot showing three successive ye...

A Silver Fir shoot showing three successive years of retained leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

T. Hardy, evergreen trees, usually of upright, pyramidal habit. In their natural home some of these conifers may reach heights of 200 ft. or more but are considerably shorter in Britain. They are usually unhappy on dry soils and in or near industrial areas, but tolerate a little shade. Late spring frosts may injure the growths of some species.

Aphids are very liable to attack young silver firs and are best tackled by forcible spraying with gamma-BHC (lindane) or nicotine insecticides. Recommended species include Abies alba (pectinata), the European silver fir, which makes a large forest tree; A. concolor, the Colorado white fir, which has glaucous foliage; A. koreana, the Korean fir, which bears violet-purple cones when only a few feet high and has dark green, shining leaves with silvery reverse. A. homolepis (brachyphylla), the Nikko fir, is particularly suitable for town gardens. Some species are suitable for rock gardens, notably A. balsamica hudsonia which is a compact, slow grower to about 2 ft.

Propagation is by seed sown outside in summer. Silver firs are important timber producers and, being odourless, make first-class wood for boxes of foodstuffs, such as butter and cheese.

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