This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As already noticed in our magazine, these have been confused. What we know as Abies should be Picea, and what are Picea should be Abies. The Firs are the Abies, and the Spruces Picea. About this Mr. Lemmon has the following in the Pacific Rural Press:
"Dr. George Engelmann, of St. Louis, the closest student of our trees in America, has just published an exhaustive description of the American Firs, in which he says: 'I follow Link in his name, definition and limitation of the genus Abies, which seems to be a very natural one, comprising the Silver and Balsam Firs.'
The synonym Picea is the older name, and enjoys the Linnsean prestige, but is contrary to classical (see Pliny and others), and to philological authority. The name Abies is generally adopted in Europe, while Picea, heretofore principally used in England, is now being abandoned.
Picea is the pitch tree, and properly designates the Spruces. Tournefort, the elder De Can-dolle. Gray and others, comprise under the name Abies both the Spruces and Firs; ' but,' the Doctor declares emphatically, ' the generic distinctions between them are abundant, and based on floral and fruit characters, as well as upon the leaf anatomy.'