Definitions

balsam fir

balsam fir

balsam fir, common name for the evergreen tree Abies balsamea of NE North American boreal forests. It has small needles and cones and is used for lumber. It is also called Canada balsam, as is the resin it produces, which is used as an adhesive in optical lenses and glass slides. Balsam fir is classified in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida, order Coniferales, family Pinaceae.

Firs (Abies) are a genus of between 45-55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. All are trees, reaching heights of 10-80 m (30-260 ft) tall and trunk diameters of 0.5-4 m (2-12 ft) when mature. Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needle-like leaves, attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup; and by erect, cylindrical cones 5-25 cm (2-10 in) long that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. Identification of the species is based on the size and arrangement of the leaves, the size and shape of the cones, and whether the bract scales of the cones are long and exserted, or short and hidden inside the cone. They are most closely related to the cedars (Cedrus). Firs are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range.

Firs are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Chionodes abella (recorded on White Fir), Autumnal Moth, Conifer Swift (a pest of Balsam Fir), The Engrailed, Grey Pug, Mottled Umber and Pine Beauty.

Douglas-firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.

Classification

Uses

The wood of most firs is considered unsuitable for general timber use, and is often used as pulp or for the manufacture of plywood and rough timber. Nordmann Fir, Noble Fir, Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are very popular Christmas trees, generally considered to be the best trees for this purpose, with aromatic foliage that does not shed many needles on drying out. Many are also very decorative garden trees, notably Korean Fir and Fraser Fir, which produce brightly coloured cones even when very young, still only 1-2 m (3-6 ft) tall.

References

External links

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