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Several species from the genus Abies with the exception of the Douglas fir which is of the genus Pseudotsuga. Fir trees are found in North America, Europe and Asia. Their wood is soft, light color, straight grain and has a coarse texture. Fir trees are resistant to insect attack and have been used for ship building and general construction. The Canada balsam fir (A. balsamea) produces an oleoresin used to mount samples on glass slides for microscopic analysis. Burgundy pitch is obtained from the silver fir (A. alba) found in the Alps, Caucasian and Ural mountains. Other common firs are the balsam fir, noble fir, and grand fir.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Abies; sapin (Fr.); abeto (Esp., Port.); abete (It.); White Deal; Norway spruce; Douglas fir; balsam fir; noble fir; silver fir; grand fir

Density 28-33 ppcf

Additional Information

H. A. Alden, A.C. Wiedenhoeft, "Qualified Determination of Provenance of Wood of the Firs (Abies spp. Mill) Using Microscopic Features of Rays: An Aid to Conservators, Curators and Art Historians" AIC Poster, reprinted online at, W., Heller, I., Schweingruber, F.H., Kienast, F., 2004:Wood anatomy of central European Species: Silver Fir, Abies alba Mill.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: Firs include two species: Abies (true firs) and Picea (spruce)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998