European Silver Fir – Abies alba

European Silver Fir –  Abies alba
Family Pinaceae: Pine, Cedar, Spruce, Fir

This lovely tree, native to the mountainous regions of Europe, can grow to 60 meters [4]. 

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Silver Fir anatomy illustration
Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé "Flora von Deutschland" 1885 [5]
European Silver Fir Tree
22 years old and about 20 feet tall.
Leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1.8–3 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5 mm thick, glossy dark green above [4]

Anecdotal evidence suggests silver fir was the first tree used in Europe as a Christms tree. The custom of decorating small evergreens originated in Germany and Switzerland. The United States now reportedly consumes 35 to 40 million trees each Christmas season [5]. Most are raised on tree farms or plucked ceremoniously from a friendly, neighborhood woodlot or forest.

Silver Fir is native to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, France and Spain [1]. Common names for this tree include Christmas tree, European silver fir, silver fir, Weißtanne, abete argentato, abete bianco, abeto blanco [3].

European Silver Fir Tree

Silver Fir Bark
50-year-old bark is dotted with diamond-shaped plaques

European Silver Fir Foliage


  1. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, "Abies alba"
  2. ITIS standard report Abies alba
  3. Zelimir Borzan. "Tree and Shrub Names", University of Zagreb, 2001.
  4. Wikipedia, "Abies alba"
  5. Wikimedia Commons, File:Illustration Abies alba0.jpg
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