This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
8. A. Albertiana, syn. A. Williamsonii and A. Mertensiana of gardens. - This is very like the last, and is often confounded with it; but the leaves are shorter, slenderer, and the branches hairy. The true Mertensiana is said to be distinct, but we do not know it, though A. Hookeriana bears that name in some gardens.
A. Brunoniana from North India, and A. Tsuga from Japan, are allied species.
9. A. Hookeriana, syn. A. Pattoniana of gardens. - A very distinct tree of large size. In a young state it has somewhat the habit of a Juniper, the leaves being linear, rnucronate and erect, of a pale slightly glaucous tint. It is a very hardy species, forming an erect dense much-branched shrub.
§ 2. Leaves linear, flat, or lenticular, in two rows or ranks, more rarely scattered. Mature cones erect. - Picea.
* Species with the bracts of the cones longer than the scales.
10. A. pectinata. Common Silver Fir. - A handsome tree from 100 to 150 feet high. Young branches clothed with blackish short hairs. Leaves about an inch long, linear, flat, obtuse, glossy, yellowish-green above, with 2 silvery lines beneath. Cones about 6 inches long, cylindrical, brown when ripe. Scales broad, thin and rounded. Seeds winged. This species is seldom seen in its greatest beauty as a small plant, on account of the spring frosts injuring the young shoots; but after it has attained the height of a few feet, it does not appear to start into growth so early, and thus escapes the effects of the cold. It is a native of Central Europe, and is well adapted for cold soils or exposed situations. There is a variety called pendula, of little merit; a dwarf form, nana; an erect variety, fastigiata; and several others scarcely worthy of notice.
11. A. Cephalonica. - This is another splendid species, agreeing in habit and disposition of the foliage with A. Pinsapo, but here the leaves are rather longer, less crowded, thinner, and tapering to a very sharp point, glossy dark green above and glaucous beneath. The cones too are longer, and the bracts exceed the scales. A native of Greece and Cephalonia.
A. Apollinis, a native of the mountains of Greece, is a closely allied species or form, intermediate in character between the last and the Silver Fir. It is said to be equally handsome, but, like both of its relatives, suffers greatly from late Spring frosts. It also bears the name of A. Reginae Amaliae.
12. A. balsamea. Balsam or Balm of Gilead Fir. - This is a small tree resembling the Silver Fir, but, although hardier than that, less desirable on account of its liability to disease and early decay. It is also less robust, with smaller foliage, and cones from 3 to 4 inches long. A native of North America. A. Fraseri is a closely allied small tree with smaller leaves, and cones from 1 to 2 inches long; and A. Hudsonica is a diminutive form of the latter.
13. A. nobilis. - This is one of the most striking and majestic species of this order, whether as a small specimen or a large tree. In its native country, so rich in magnificent large trees, it is said to form a most imposing sight, not only for its gigantic stature, but also in regard to its symmetrical growth, rich deep green incurved foliage, and large erect cones. In young trees the rigid crowded spreading incurved leaves arc linear, lenticular, rather thick, about 1 1/2 inch long, obtuse or slightly pointed, of a glaucous bluish green on both sides at first, ultimately assuming a darker hue. Cones sessile, 6 to 9 inches long, with large reflexed acuminate bracts, and large broad and entire scales. This was discovered and introduced by Douglas. It is a native of Northern California, and appears to be perfectly hardy in this country, where there are already many handsome specimens of considerable size.
14. A. Nordmanniana. - A magnificent tree, contrasting well with the last. It grows from 80 to 100 feet high, and is of quite regular growth, but the branches are less stiff and formal, and the foliage is of a dark very glossy green above and silvery beneath. Leaves on young trees spreading in two ranks, with a half-twist at the base, about an inch long, rigid, linear, flat, and minutely bifid at the apex. Cones pedunculate, 4 to 6 inches long, with cordate-acuminate recurved bracts and large entire scales. This beautiful hardy tree is a native of the Crimea and other countries bordering the Black Sea.
15. A. bracteata. - A tall slender tree with rigid linear flat distichous leaves from 2 to 3 inches long, bright glossy green above, and glaucous beneath. Cones about 4 inches long, remarkable for the large coriaceous 3-lobed and fringed bracts which greatly exceed the scales. Unfortunately this handsome species starts into growth so early in Spring that the young-shoots are almost invariably injured by the late frosts, and therefore, as we have so great a choice, this should be rejected. It is a native of California.
A. religiosa is a handsome though tender Mexican species.
* * Species in which the bracts do not exceed the scales of the cones.
16. A. Pinsapo. - A most magnificent species in the regularity and symmetry of its habit, attaining a height of 50 to 70 feet. The branches are dense and rigid, and very densely clothed with thick linear lenticular, mucronate leaves enlarged at the base, from 6 to 10 lines long, and regularly disposed all around the branches, and at right angles with them. The foliage is of a yellowish green hue, with glaucous stripes. Cones sessile, oval or oblong, 4 to 5 inches long; scales broad, rounded; Lracts short. This beautiful tree is quite hardy, and on account of its compact growth and unique appearance it is worthy of a place in every garden. It is a native of the mountains of Spain. The var. variegata is not desirable.
A. Webbiana and A. Pindrow are both very fine species, with long distichous flexible leaves, and large purple cones, from North India, but they are too tender for our climate.
17. A. Cilicica, svn. A. leioclada and A. cdndicans. - A small tree with greyish furrowed bark, and foliage like the Silver Fir, but the young shoots are not hairy. Leaves 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, linear, flat, crowded, in two ranks, dark green above, and glaucous beneath. Cones cylindrical, 6 to 8 inches long, with broad thin entire coriaceous scales. A native of Asia Minor, and apparently perfectly hardy.
18. A. Pichta, syn, A. Sibirica. - A small tree from 30 to 40 feet high, with short linear flat obtuse leaves, dark green above, paler beneath, and cones about 3 inches long. A native of the mountains of Siberia, rather liable to suffer from Spring frosts in this country.
19. A. grdndis. - A handsome large tree from 100 to 250 feet high, of symmetrical habit. Young branches glabrous. Leaves distichous, of unequal length, varying from 6 lines to 1 1/2 inch, linear flat emarginate glossy dark or yellowish green above, and silvery beneath. Cones from 3 to 4 inches long, with broad entire scales. This is a very desirable ornamental tree of rapid growth and perfect hardiness. A native of Upper California.
20. A. Parsonsii, syn. A. Lowiana and A. lasiocarpa of gardens. A very beautiful and distinct species, with yellow bark on the young branches, and linear flat obtuse glaucous green leaves, channelled above, from 2 to 3 inches long, and 2 to 3 lines broad. Cones cylindrical, from 3 to 5 inches long. In its native country this splendid Abies is said to attain a height of upwards of 250 feet. In the small specimens we have seen, the somewhat rigid branches are regularly disposed in distant whorls. It differs essentially in its larger distichous foliage from all others we know. Besides the names above given, it frequently bears the false one of grdndis, from which it is so distinct as to set aside all possibility of confusion. A native of California, and perfectly hardy in the South of England.
21. A. amabilis. - This magnificent Conifer is comparatively rare, in consequence of the necessity of raising it by grafting; and many of the specimens bearing this name in gardens are not the true plant. Leaves scattered, crowded, 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, linear obtuse dark green above, silvery beneath. The cones are described as cylindrical, and about 6 inches long. A native of North California, introduced by Douglas in 1831, and one of the handsomest of the genus.
22. A. Veitchii. - A somewhat recently introduced Japanese species. It is described as a handsome distinct tree from 120 to 140 feet high. Leaves crowded, incurved, 6 to 12 lines long, linear, flat, glaucous above, silvery beneath. Cones from 2 to 2 1/2 inches long, with broad rounded scales. This species is still rare, and we have no experience of its hardiness, but the elevation of its native habitat - 6,000 to 7,000 feet - would lead us to suppose it to be quite hardy.
A. magnified is unknown to us as a cultivated plant, though we remember seeing the name quoted somewhere.