Herbs & Plants

Abies amabilis

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Botanical Name : Abies amabilis
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Abies
Species: A. amabilis
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Common Name   :Red Fir, Pacific Silver Fir, Cascades Fir, white fir, Lovely fir, Amabilis fir, Cascades fir

Habitat ; Abies amabilis is native to the Pacific Northwest of North America, occurring in the Pacific Coast Ranges and the Cascade Range from the extreme southeast of Alaska, through western British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, to the extreme northwest of California. It grows in high mountain slopes and benches, going down to sea-level in the north of its range. The best specimens grow in deep moist soils and cool wet air conditions such as fog belts

Description:Abies amabilis   is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 30-45 m (exceptionally 72 m) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1.2 m (exceptionally 2.3  m). The bark on younger trees is light grey, thin and covered with resin blisters. On older trees, it darkens and develops scales and furrows. The leaves are  needle-like, flattened, 2-4.5 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5 mm thick, matt dark green above, and with two white bands of stomata below, and slightly notched at the tip. The leaf arrangement is spiral on the shoot, but with each leaf variably twisted at the base so they lie flat to either side of and above the  shoot, with none below the shoot. The shoots are orange-red with dense velvety pubescence. The cones are 9-17 cm long and 4-6 cm broad, dark purple before  maturity; the scale bracts are short, and hiddenick to see the pictures of Abies amabilis in the closed cone. The winged seeds are released when the cones disintegrate at maturity about 6–7 months  after pollination.

You may click to see the pictures of Abies amabilis
Pacific Silver Fir is very closely related to Maries’ Fir A. mariesii from Japan, which is distinguished by its slightly shorter leaves (1.5-2.5 cm) and  smaller cones (5-11 cm long).


It has a gray trunk, a rigid, symmetrical crown, and lateral branches perpendicular to the stem. It contrasts strikingly with the more limber crowns, acute branch angles, and generally darker trunks of its common associates Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and mountain hemlock (T. mertensiana). The species name, amabilis, means lovely....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is hardy to zone 5. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in October. 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.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant. It cannot tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation :-
Requires a good moist but not water-logged soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant   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  . Trees are somewhat shallow rooted and are therefore susceptible to strong winds. Grows best in the Perthshire valleys of Scotland . It does very well on glacial moraines in Scotland. When grown in an open position, the tree clothes itself to the ground with gracefully drooping branches, though on the whole, this species does not grow well in Britain. Trees have been of variable growth in this country and seem to be  short-lived. The best and fastest growing specimens are to be found in the north and far west of the country  . Growth in girth can be very quick,  1.8 metres in 35 years has been recorded  . 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. The  crushed leaves have an odour like orange peel. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly . They hybridize freely  with other members of this genus. This species is often confused with A. nordmanniana . A very ornamental plant . Trees are sometimes grown as  ‘Christmas trees’ . Plants are susceptible to injury by aphis.

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.

Edible Uses: Gum; Tea.
Young shoot tips are used as a substitute for tea. The pitch obtained from the bark can be hardened (probably by immersing it in cold water) and used as a

chewing gum. Inner bark. No further information is given, but inner bark can be dried, ground into a powder and then used with grain flours etc to make bread  and other preparations.

Medicinal Uses:-

This plant was used quite widely by native North American Indians. An infusion of the bark was used as a tonic and to treat stomach ailments, TB, haemorrhoids and various minor complaints. The pitch, or resin, was also used to treat colds, sore throats etc. The bark of this tree contains blisters that  are filled with a resin called ‘Canadian Balsam’. Although the report does not mention the uses of this resin, it can almost certainly be used in the same  ways as the resin of A. balsamea, as detailed below:- The resin obtained from this tree  has been used throughout the world and is a very effective   antiseptic and healing agent. It is used as a healing and analgesic protective covering for burns, bruises, wounds and sores. It is also used to treat sore  nipples and is said to be one of the best curatives for a sore throat. The resin is also antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. It is used internally  in propriety mixtures to treat coughs and diarrhoea, though taken in excess it is purgative. A warm liquid of the gummy sap was drunk as a treatment for  gonorrhoea . A tea made from the leaves is antiscorbutic. It is used in the treatment of coughs, colds and fevers. The leaves and young shoots are best harvested in the spring and dried for later use.

Other uses:-

The boughs are fragrant and can be hung in the home as an air freshener. Wood – hard, light, not strong, close grained, not very durable. It is used for  framing small buildings but is not strong enough for larger buildings. It is also used for crates, pulp etc. This tree yields the resin ‘Canadian Balsam’.

The report does not mention the uses of this balsam, but the following are the ways that it is used when obtained from A. balsamea:- The balsamic resin ‘Balm of Gilead’ or ‘Canada Balsam’ according to other reports is obtained during July and August from blisters in the bark or by cutting pockets in the wood.

Another report says that it is a turpentine. It is used medicinally and in dentistry, also in the manufacture of glues, candles and as a cement for microscopes and slides – it has a high refractive index resembling that of glass. The average yield is about 8 – 10 oz per tree. The resin is also a fixative in soaps and perfumery

The wood is soft and not very strong; it is used for paper making, packing crates and other cheap construction work. The foliage has an attractive scent, and is sometimes used for Christmas decoration, including Christmas trees.

It is also planted as an ornamental tree in large parks, though its requirement for cool, humid summers limits the areas where it grows well; successful growth away from its native range is restricted to areas like western Scotland and southern New Zealand.

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


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