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Healt Benefits of Abies Alba

Updated on April 12, 2011

Abies Alba

The silver fir (Abies alba Mill. Or Abies pectinata), also known as fir or abezzo unaccustomed, is a plant belonging to the genus Abies, typical of forests and mountains of the northern hemisphere. This plant, along with rare Nebrodi fir (Abies nebrodensis), is one of only two wild trees in our area. The Fir is a majestic tree, slender and long-lived, and given its considerable height (an average of 30 meters, but some specimens may exceed 45-50 meters), is nicknamed "the prince of the woods".It's a herbal plants



The silver fir is an evergreen tree and monoecious, ie on the same plant has male and female flowers separate and distinct. He lives at altitudes between 400 and 1900 meters and is a very long-lived tree: it can reach, in fact, the six hundred years old. The silver fir is a species sciaphilous (which can live, that is, in the shadows), the rule of a young fir tree that can remain undercover for three decades, resulting in malformation of the stem, while the adult has been the need to grow in full light. The silver fir loves moisture, fresh and deep soils, typical of shaded areas and very rainy.


Habit and size


The silver fir can grow to a height of 50 meters, has a right frame of up to a diameter of 3 meters. If the plant grows isolated the stem from the base is characterized by the presence of thick branches, but if the plant grows in close contact with others, the stem is bare for a considerable part of its height. The hair, dark blue-green, pyramid-shaped in young specimens, while in adults (after 60-80 years) forms a flattened, called "stork's nest" because the main point stops the growth and branches below continue to grow until they form a kind of hollow. This plant has a very regular branch: main branches are grouped into regular boxes and arranged horizontally and never pendulous (branching simpodiale). The secondary branches are, instead, arranged along the trunk, following a spiral pattern.


The largest silver fir of Europe is a specimen is 50 m high with a circumference of 4.8 meters. It is located Lavarone , at Hut pond, and is called by the locals of Avez Prinzip.




The bark, in young specimens, is smooth, has a silvery white-gray and has small pockets of resin which, when pressed, make smell of turpentine, in older plants (more than fifty years of age) the bark tends to thicken and become thin plates in epidermal desquamation, starting from the base, rough, fissured (cracked) and a color fading to black.


The bark of white spruce is one of the species Abies one of the least rich in tannin (only 5%). However, unlike other conifers that have a resinous wood, white wood, it is acting within a little while in the cortex are present full of bags where you can extract the turpentine.




The leaves are persistent (8-10 years) and consist of flattened needles, disks and loaded individually and separately on the branches, according to a provision of a comb (ie, like the teeth of a double-comb). The needles are about 1.5 to 3 cm long and 1.5-2 mm wide, slightly narrower at the base, with rounded tips and no sharp edges smooth. The upper side, dark green, and shiny, while the lower has two parallel lines characteristic whitish-azzurognole, stomatifere these bands, which have 6-8 files of stomata and channels resiniferi marginal. Another feature of this species are covered by thin twigs light brown hair.




At our latitudes of the white flowering occurs between May and June. Speaking of blossoming of the conifers is actually incorrect, since these plants are gymnosperms do not produce flowers as we are used to understand them nor fruit. The reproductive organs consist of sporofilli grouped together to form cones or cones: the male sporofilli (microsporofilli), which is responsible for the formation of pollen, gathered in male cones or cones, the female sporofilli (macrosporofilli) lead to the formation of ova and met female cones (the cones).


·         The macrosporofilli be found at the top of the branches of the first year and at the top of the crown. Inflorescences are erect and form cylindrical-oval green or red-purple, with scales scales longer than the coverts ovulifere;


·         The microsporofilli bloom in the middle and upper canopy, are more numerous than those of women and children, gathered at the bottom of the branches. They have an ovoid shape, are yellowish and have two anthers that contain pollen yellow. The pollen is easily carried up by the hot air.


The structures commonly called "cones" are derived from the female cones that can Lignify and stay on the branches. They are almost cylindrical, are mainly located at the top of the crown and, unlike spruce, are facing up. Formed by thick scales with protruding bracts that protect the seeds inside toothed, cones are 10 to 18 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, initially green, becoming reddish-brown when ripe. In September-October cones crumble, the scales fall one by one along with the seeds, leaving the central axis, said spine, naked on the branch, where it can remain for several years (a typical characteristic of the genus Abies).


The seed production is rather late, especially for plants in a forest in what happens after fifty years, thirty years, however, for isolated plants. The scales of the cones are woody consistency, ranging in number from 150-200 and every scale has two seeds. In total each "cone" contains about fifty fertile seeds. These are triangular, 6-9 mm long, yellow-brown wing and have 3-4 times as large, firmly attached to the seed itself, which allows him, once released, to twirl in the air.


Oil is derived from the seeds of spruce, which is used with the following characteristics:


·         Iodine number: 120 to 160


·         saponification number: 190 to 195


·         refractive index at 40 º: 1.472


·         Reichert-Meisl numbers: 1 to 2


·         weight: from 0.921 to 0.931




The root system is initially taproot type: single large root that penetrates the soil reaches a depth of about 1.60 meters, the plant still firmly on the ground, and later formed a few lateral roots (lateral branches) that continue to grow and swell going, if possible, in depth. The silver fir is, therefore, one of the best conifers that still plot and is therefore less susceptible to uprooting.


Habitat And Distribution


The silver fir grows in mountainous areas at altitudes between 400 and 2100 m above sea level, finding its climax in the ideal zone to rainfall and atmospheric humidity medium-high between 900 and 1800 m. The silver fir is a species that rarely form pure woods sciaphilous (fir), is an important component of mixed forest and subalpine mountain plan, for example, may form extensive forests in association with beech (Fagus sylvatica) tree with which it shares climatic and soil requirements, while a quote can be found associated with the subalpine larch (Larix decidua) and spruce (Picea abies), also in south-western Alps form a characteristic association (called rhododendri-Pinetum uncinatae Subasio. abietosum) with the red rhododendron (Rhododendron ferrugineum) and the mountain pine (Pinus mugo subsp. uncinata).


The fir has a European areal spread wide but fragmented, characterized by four subareali more or less connected to each other and located respectively in the hills of south-central Germany, in the Carpathian mountain ranges of the Balkan Peninsula and along the northern center chain Alpine-Apennine. The core is certainly central Europe, where you can find beautiful fir trees like the Black Forest. The genotypes in Italy consist of those from the Balkans in the eastern Alps, and in the western Alps from those from the Alpine-Apennine.


In northern Italy the silver fir is present in the Alps, but in a discontinuous way: it is common in the eastern Alps, while it is not widespread (and sometimes absent for long stretches) along the inland areas of central and western areas of the Alps, in areas microclimatic and ecological conditions which favor the larch and (to a lesser extent) the spruce, but returns to be frequent in the Maritime Alps and Ligurian Alps.


In the Northern Apennines the silver fir is native to both nuclei with often very limited extent, both in association with beech forests or large and more or less pure, but almost always the source silvicultural, in Central Italy is in group isolated on the Laga Mountains and in the basin of Trigno.


In the south it is found both in the Apennines and Calabria and Basilicata Apennines: in Basilicata, it is found in regional Reserve Abetina of Laurieton and the northern slope of the Pollino National Park, associated with the beech, in Calabria it is found not only in Aspromonte, even on Serre of Calabria. In these areas it is noteworthy Archiforo Bosco, in the town of Serra San Bruno, where the impressive size of the plants.


The Apennine fir, especially those of Tuscany, are, however, be considered largely non-natural, because they are the result of human intervention reforestation implemented by the Grand Duchy and some monastic orders, or are the product of a selection made within mixed forests (beech and fir), which has fostered at the expense of deciduous conifer. The areas where this plant grows wild Apennines are mainly the forest around the hermitage of Camaldoli, in the Casentino, and south of Mount Amiata areas where fir, although native, was still favored by selective cuts, very interesting Finally, the wood of fir, in association with the mountain pine (Pinus mugo subsp. mugo), which grows near the summit of Monte Nero (1752 m) in the Ligurian Apennines and the eastern extremity is the wreck of phytocoenosis to a fir and pine, which seems to have been widespread in prehistoric times (roughly from 6000 to 800 BC) over most of the Northern Apennines and today is evidenced by a review of palynology.


Distribution Down


During the last years, the white spruce has been a decrease in number. For example, in 15 years, Swiss Plateau, the silver fir has decreased by about 11% and it currently represents only 13% of the trees, a figure well below the 37% of the more common spruce. This decrease is largely due to the action anthropogenic (ie human) that, in most cases, this has disadvantaged in favor of other conifer trees, especially beech, or has removed to give life to large pastures. Do not underestimate the cutting of young trees for use as a Christmas tree.


The withdrawal of the white distribution area is still a widespread phenomenon that exists since the last 2000 years. The causes have not yet been assessed but are likely to be found in anthropogenic climate change and action.


Related Species


In Sicily there Nebroidi of the tree, an endemic species, once classified as a subspecies of the white, now believed, however, a species that self-speciation may have formed during the beginning of the last interglacial period post-Wurm. It is an endangered species and, to date, there are only about thirty copies of Madonie, protected by barbed wire. It differs from the abbot white because it is smaller and more compact, with glabrous branches, leaves, shorter (9-10 mm) and cones by about a quarter smaller.


As part of the Mediterranean region nine related species living white fir, and interfertile usually poorly differentiated from each other. These include: A. marocana found only in Morocco; A. pinsapo in Spain; A. Numidian in Algeria, the aforementioned A. nebrodensis in Sicily; A. cephalonica in Greece, A. Boris-regis southern part of the Balkan A. equi-Trojan in Turkey (in the area near the city of Troy); A. born-Mullerian and A. cilicica in Turkey


In total, the genus Abies comprises about 45-55 species.




The white fir wood is light, fairly soft, light in color with reddish veins; considered lower quality than that of spruce, it is widely used by industry for pulp mills using the sulfite process and carpentry, where it is used for various construction and interior (furniture) for the exterior, although it is quite vulnerable to termites and weather. Some advantages compared to wood of spruce can be found in the fact that the wood does not contain resin, since this is only present in the cortex, a higher resistance and static capacity and a greater aptitude for impregnation. The disadvantages compared to the red fir stand in the increased presence of heartwood with high moisture content (this defect is called "wet heart") and the presence of "shake", a defect in the wood that consists of the enhanced cleavage at the annual rings of growth.


The buds, which are harvested in spring, containing an oil and a glucoside, said piceina, which makes balsamic properties sfiammanti, antirheumatic and diuretic. The decoction of gems together is very useful for treating respiratory problems for the antiseptic and expectorant. This oil is also used to flavor amenities and invigorating massage. The leaves are rich in provitamin A, were once used to treat eye diseases. From wood and leaves is derived turpentine, used in medicine and veterinary tears and bruises thanks to its antiseptic and antirheumatic.

Other Uses

In the past, between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, the plant was used, given the considerable height of his drums, as a mast for ships, while today, especially in Central Europe, younger fish are used as tree Christmas instead of the more used spruce because the needles are aromatic and resistant, falling much later than those of spruce. Today, however, the silver fir is not widely used as Christmas tree was, in fact, largely replaced by the abbot of the Caucasus (which has a denser foliage and attractive) from spruce (the most widespread and economically ) and other species.

The monks of Camaldoli (AR) produce a liquor with extracts of this plant called "Tears of fir."

The silver fir bark contains a resin, which yields the so-called "Strasbourg Turpentine" or "Alsace", mainly used for paints.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      That's because you have been busy hinavg lots of fun! Our slim trees are up, house is all decorated, Christmas cards with annual letter went out yesterday, sugar cookies are baked and most of the presents are wrapped except for ribbons and embellishments. Still have to bake the chocolate chip cookies. Now I can relax for a few days before we pack to leave to visit relatives. Your tree is lovely...once the decorations are on all trees look beautiful. Merry Christmas Cindy to you and yours!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Dear Cindy, Your tree is so beautiful. You know I have found Magazine sutisrcbbions to be great gifts, they think of you every time they get one, and you can get really great deals on them now. Just take a look at those cards stuck inside the magazines at the store. Also the first time, its fun to buy the one that you're giving and wrap it up and give it them. My gang seems to all love 'Traditional Home'. 'Baskin Robbins' gift certificates are a real fave, everybody loves those. Merry Christma Dear Cindy, Hugs, Joyce

    • susannah42 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      Great to read about health benefits from nature. There are so many.


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