This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
Here we have a true fir, which will be seen on examination to differ in several points from the pines. It will at once be noted that the leaves are not gathered into bundles of two, three, or five, but grow solitarily in two rows, on opposite sides of a branch. They are flat, with blunt ends, whitish or silvery underneath, and evergreen. The cones, too, are very different from those of the pines, for whereas those were found to be conical, these are really cylindrical, and consist of a number of woody cones of pretty equal thickness throughout, not thickened at the tips as in Pinus. The firs are excellent timber trees, and are rich in turpentine.
The Silver-fir gets its popular name from the silvery undersides of its leaves. The cones stand erectly from the branches ; at first they are green, then reddish, finally purplish-brown. They are six or eight inches in length. Each scale has a long, tapering bract attached to its outer surface, and turned over at the tip. It is a lofty tree, growing to eighty or a hundred feet, sometimes more. It is a native of Central Europe, Northern and Western Asia, but has been grown in England for nearly three hundred years. Its timber is reputed to be durable under water; and from its bark is obtained a resin called Strasburg turpentine, also white pitch. The flowers appear in May, and the cones are ripe eighteen months later. The tree often begins to produce cones at about twenty years of age, but until about its fortieth year these are barren.
Abies pectinata. - Coniferae. The name Abies is Latin, signifying a fir-tree or a plank. A shipwright or carpenter was abietarius.