This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The name of silver fir is derived from the color of its leaves on the underside, which are shorter or broader and set thicker on the spray than those of other firs, and have a beautiful silvery appearance when the under side is viewed, or when the wind turns the branches from the eye; while the upper surface is of the brightest and handsomest green of all the species of fir.
This beautiful evergreen is a fine, majestic tree, and resembles the spruce in its regular pyramidal form. It differs from it in its bark, which is smooth when young, and continues so until the tree has attained considerable age; in its leaves, which are nearly flat, and of a beautiful silvery color beneath; and in having large upright cones. It has a strong resemblance to the silver fir of Europe, a much loftier and nobler tree. The American tree is known by the name of Balsam Fir. It is hardy, easily transplanted, and grows rapidly and with great vigor, and possesses in a high degree the most important qualities of the evergreens as an ornamental tree, a regular pyramidal shape, and rich, deep green. The large cones with which the upper branches are often loaded, give it additional beauty. Its defects are its stiffness, and its raggedness, which it assumes in old age, which comes on early, as it is considered a short-lived tree. Its chief recom- mendations are its hardiness and its quickness of growth.
It stands unprotected against the wind, when not blowing from the sea, better than any other tree, and grows on a bleak point where any other tree would be killed.