Subalpine Fir

Botanical Name: Abies lasiocarpa – (Hook.)Nutt.
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Abies
Synonyms : Abies subalpina – Engelm.,Pinus lasiocarpa – Hook.
Habitat: Western N. America – Alaska to Arizona and New Mexico.   Often found in poor and rocky soils, it is rarely seen below 600 metres. It grows in forests right up to the timber line where it is no more than a shrub on exposed slopes at high altitudes.

Description:
An evergreen Perennial Tree growing to 20m by 4m at a slow rate.Trees to 20m; trunk to 0.8m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark gray, thin, smooth, furrowed in age. Branches stiff, straight; twigs opposite to whorled, greenish gray to light brown, bark splitting as early as 2 years to reveal red-brown layer, somewhat pubescent; fresh leaf scars with red periderm. Buds hidden by leaves or exposed, tan to dark brown, nearly globose, small, resinous, apex rounded; basal scales short, broad, equilaterally triangular, glabrous or with a few trichomes at base, not resinous, margins crenate to dentate, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1.8–3.1cm ´ 1.5–2mm, spiraled, turned upward, flexible; cross section flat, prominently grooved adaxially; odor sharp (ß-phellandrene); abaxial surface with 4–5 stomatal rows on each side of midrib; adaxial surface bluish green, very glaucous, with 4–6 stomatal rows at midleaf, rows usually continuous to leaf base; apex prominently or weakly notched to rounded; resin canals large, ± median, away from margins and midway between abaxial and adaxial epidermal layers. Pollen cones at pollination ± purple to purplish green. Seed cones cylindric, 6–12 ´ 2–4cm, dark purple, sessile, apex rounded; scales ca. 1.5 ´ 1.7cm, densely pubescent; bracts included (specimens with exserted, reflexed bracts are insect infested). Seeds 6 ´ 2mm, body brown; wing about 1.5 times as long as body, light brown; cotyledon number 4–5. 2 n =24.
.click & see the pictures.> tree…… Seedpod.….& seed
It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

Cultivation details:-
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Prefers slightly acid conditions down to a pH of about 5. Prefers growing on a north-facing slope. Occasionally planted for timber in N. Europe but this species does not thrive in Britain. It is a very cold-hardy tree but the milder winters of this country make it susceptible to damage by aphis and late frosts. The sub-species A. lasiocarpa arizonica. (Merriam.)Lemmon. is growing somewhat better here. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. The crushed foliage has a balsam aroma.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Gum; Tea.

The shoot tips are used as a tea substitute. The cones can be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with fat and used as a confection. It is said to be a delicacy and an aid to the digestion. The resin from the trunk is used as a chewing gum. It is said to treat bad breath. Inner bark. No more information is given, but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used with cereal flours when making bread etc[K]. Seeds. No more information is given, but the seeds are very small and fiddly to use. Seeds of this genus are generally oily with a resinous flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked[K].

Medicinal Action & Uses :-

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Antihalitosis; Antiseptic; Emetic; Foot care; Laxative; Poultice; TB; Tonic.

Antiseptic. The gummy exudate that appears on the bark was soaked in water until soft and then applied to wounds. An infusion of the resin has been used as an emetic to cleanse the insides. The resin has also been chewed to treat bad breath. A decoction of the bark is used as a tonic and in the treatment of colds and flu. A poultice of the leaves has been used to treat chest colds and fevers. An infusion has been taken to treat the coughing up of blood, which can be the first sign of TB, and as a laxative.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses
Baby care; Deodorant; Gum; Hair; Incense; Miscellany; Repellent; Wood.

The wood is white, soft, brittle, and quick to decay, used for rough construction and boxes, doors, frames, poles, and fuel. Small trees are extensively used for Christmas trees. Subalpine fir is a forest pioneer on severe and disturbed sites. By providing cover, it assists in rehabilitating the landscape and protecting watersheds. Subalpine fir grows in forests that occupy the highest water yield areas in much of the western United States and are thus highly significant in water management and conservation.

The native North American Indians used pitch and bark preparations for wounds and the wood, bark, and boughs for roof shingles, baskets and bedding. The pitch was also used to coat canoe seams and rubbed on bowstrings as a sealant and protectant.They  used it for making chairs and insect-proof storage boxes. It was also used as a fuel and was said to burn for a long time.

The fragrant young leaves and twigs are used to repel moths or are burnt as an incense . They were also ground into a powder and used to make a baby powder and perfumes . A gum is obtained from the bark. It is antiseptic  and was chewed by the N. American Indians in order to clean the teeth. It was also used to plug holes in canoes. An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair tonic. The leaves can also be placed in the shoes as a foot deodorant. Wood – light, soft, not strong. It is little used except as a fuel and for pulp.

Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed
The crushed foliage has a balsam aroma.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Abies+lasiocarpa
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ABLAL&photoID=ablal_005_ahp.tif
http://www.eol.org/pages/1061728

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