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.
The Spruce-fir is a handsome tree, often reaching from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet in height. The leaves are curiously square, sharp-pointed and scattered in their arrangement on the branch. The cylindrical cones hang down from the tip of a shoot, and are six or seven inches long, their scales with a few teeth at the apex. Its seeds are very small. The flowers appear in May, and the cones ripen in about twelve months. It is a native of Norway, Russia, and Northern Europe generally, and was introduced to Britain nearly three hundred and fifty years ago; but previous to the glacial period it appears to have been indigenous and prosperous here. Its timber (white deal) is very largely used for many purposes. Its resin is known as frankincense, from which is prepared Burgundy pitch; and from the boiled leaf-buds and shoots is obtained essence of spruce, which is used to flavour an intoxicant known as spruce-beer.
One of the most ornamental of this group is the Hemlock Spruce (Abies canadensis), a species that was introduced about a hundred and sixty years since. Its home is in all the forest regions of Canada and the United States as far west as Oregon, and in New England and the Dominion its shortened name of Hemlock is "familiar in the mouths" of the people. The leaves are short, flat, solitary, and endure for two seasons. The cones are but half an inch long, and afford a striking contrast to those of the Sugar-pine (Pinus lambertiana) whose cones are said sometimes to measure two feet long. The peculiar grace of the Hemlock is due to the symmetrically arranged branches, and to their drooping tips; but in later life it becomes rugged, and loses much of its charm. Its wood is not so highly esteemed as its bark, which is useful for tanning.
Norway Spruce Fir.