European Silver Fir identification

The European Silver Fir Abies alba, a conifer native to the Mountains of Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Balkans, was introduced in 1603 and is now common in upland woodlands in the west and north of Britain. It has been planted in large gardens elsewhere. Like all silver firs the leaves tend to look silver when viewed from below because the needles have 2 broad white bands underneath. European Silver Fir identification – short, straight, green needles, with 2 broad white bands underneath, connected to shoot by green pad. 

There are about 50 species of Fir worldwide. They are often called Silver Firs. They are evergreen conifers found in upland areas of North America, Eurasia, Central America and North Africa. Silver Firs can easily be confused with Spruces and Douglas Firs but differ in the way the needles are attached to the shoot. They have cones that stand up whereas Spruces and Douglas Firs have cones that hang down. Also Fir cones break up on the tree to release seeds and complete cones are not often found on the ground.

European Silver Fir

European Silver Fir

European Silver Fir needles

Each needle has 2 white bands underneath. There is a pad, not a woody peg, where the needle joins the shoot.

European Silver Fir needles

Needles on the top layer are very short (1cm), those of the lower layer are longer (2cm).

European Silver Fir bark

The bark of a young tree.

European Silver Fir cone

It is rare to find an intact cone on the floor but you may find fragments like this.

European Silver Fir cone fragments

You will always find discarded cone scales like this under the tree.

European Silver Fir cones

A few cones can be seen at the top of this tree.

European Silver Fir spikes

Cones are high up on old trees and difficult to see. Like nearly all Silver Firs the cones break up on the tree leaving these spikes.