Herbs & Plants

Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa)

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Botanical Name : Abies lasiocarpa
A. lasiocarpa

Synonyms : Abies subalpina – Engelm., Pinus lasiocarpa – Hook.
Common Name: German: Korksilbertanne.  Czech: jedle plstnatoplodá

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.

Abies lasiocarpa  is an evergreen deciduous  medium-sized coniferous  tree growing to 20 metres (66 ft) tall, exceptionally to 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 m diameter, and a very narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth, gray, and with resin blisters, becoming rough and fissured or scaly on old trees. The leaves are flat needle-like, 1.5–3 centimetres (0.59–1.18 in) long, glaucous green above with a broad stripe of stomata, and two blue-white stomatal bands below; the fresh leaf scars are reddish. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but with the leaf bases twisted to be arranged to the sides of and above the shoot, with few or none below the shoot. The cones are erect, 6–12 centimetres (2.4–4.7 in) long, dark blackish-purple with fine yellow-brown pubescence, ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in early fall.CLICK & SEE

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.

Leaf: Flattened needles, usually about 1 inch long, thickened in the middle, bluish white bloom on all surfaces; tips mostly rounded, but may be notched (or pointed near top of tree); spirally arranged but uniformly upswept; commonly have a manicured appearance.

Flower: Monoecious; male cones bluish and borne beneath the leaves; female cones purple and borne upright near the top of the crown.

Fruit: Cones are 2 to 4 inches long, cylindrical, slender, and borne upright on the twig (frequently in clusters); cone scales are deciduous, falling from the cone as seeds ripen; purple when mature.

Twig: Stiff, orange-brown, and covered with round, flat leaf scars when needles fall. Buds are small, rounded, and covered with pitch; terminal buds usually occur in clusters of three or more.

Bark: When young, grayish green and covered with resin blisters; later turning gray to white, unbroken except near base of large trees. Resin pockets scattered throughout inner bark.

Form: When mature 40 to 100 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet in diameter. Very narrow crown of dense foliage; often spire-like with branches to the ground.

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[81]. 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[200]. 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.

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. 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.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses:

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 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. The native North American Indians 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.

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


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