The White or Lovely Fir (A. amabilis, Forbes), of the high mountain slopes of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, comes to its greatest estate in the Olympic range. Here it dominates other fir trees, a giant 15o to 25o feet high, with a trunk 4 to 6 feet through. The spiry pyramid is formed of limbs that strike downward and outward in curves of remarkable grace and symmetry. In open groves the trees are clothed to the ground. In dense forests the trunks are bare except for a tufted crown. The bark is thick and broken into irregular plates on very old trees; on younger ones it is silvery grey and smooth. The wood is light brown or white, weak, hard and close grained. It is occa sionally used in interior finish of houses. In cultivation the tree forgets its wild beauty and becomes commonplace. It grows in Europe, but not in our Atlantic States. Only in its natural range is it truly the "lovely fir" of the mountains.
The White Fir (A. grandis, Lindl.) earns its name by the silvery linings of its leaves. It grows from Vancouver Island south to middle California, and eastward into Idaho. It climbs from the sea to elevations of 4,000 to 7,000 feet, mingled with other conifers, but keeping along the borders of streams. This white fir is grand indeed in the coast region, where it mounts upward with slender trunk to the height of zoo to 30o feet. Its limbs sweep outward in curves of the utmost grace, and the contrast of dark green with silvery white in the foliage makes the tree cheerful in the extreme. The flowers are yellow and the cones brilliant green, the broad, entire scales quite concealing the bracts. ' The wood of this fir is pale brown, soft, light and coarse, used to a limited extent in interior house finishing, cooperage and boxing and for woodenwares. The tree grows rapidly in European parks.
The Balsam Fir (A. Fraseri, Poir.) is a tree 4o to 6o feet high which grows in forests at an altitude of 4,000 to 6,000 feet on the Appalachian Mountains from southwestern Virginia into Ten nessee and North Carolina. It forms an open pyramid of rather stiff limbs, ending in twigs crowded with dark, lustrous foliage. The purple cones are ornamented by pale yellow-green bracts with 8i toothed margins which turn back over the scales. The wood of this tree is rarely used as lumber. It has the faults of fir wood in general, and the trees are inaccessible to lumbermen. The tree is short lived and has little ornamental value.
The Balsam Fir (A. lasiocarpa, Nutt.) grows in the high, mountainous regions from Alaska south along the Cascades of Washington and Oregon, and follows the Rocky Mountains from Idaho to Arizona. The trees are tall, narrow spires with thickly
crowded branches, the oldest of which droop slightly. They range from 8o to 18o feet high, with trunks 2 to 5 feet in diameter. The bark of the limbs changes from the reddish pubescence of the twigs to pale grey or almost white. Aged trees have shallow-fissured bark covered with cinnamon-coloured scales.
The blue-green of the leaves is intensified by the striking indigo colour of both kinds of flowers in their season. The cones are rich, deep purple, and plain, the broad scales quite concealing the ruddy bracts.
White Fir (Abies concolor, Lindl. & Gord.)—A narrow pyramidal tree, 125 to 25o feet high, with trunk 3 to 6 feet through; branches short, stout with long, stout, much-divided side branches extending forward; twigs stout, smooth. Bark 3 to 6 inches thick, broken into rounded ridges by deep, irregular furrows, and the surface into plate-like scales. Wood soft, light, pale brown to white, coarse and weak. Buds globular, inch thick. Leaves 2-ranked by crowding; erect, pale blue to whitish, becoming dull green when old; on fruiting branches often thickened into a keel above, curved and short; on lower branches flat, straight, 2 to 3 inches long. Flowers : pistillate on upper branches, with striking greenish bracts; staminate dark red, on middle limbs. Fruit erect Oblong-cylindrical cones, 5 to 6 inches long, green, purple or yellow; scales broad, rounded at apex, concealing bracts; seeds / to / inch long with shining red wings. Preferred habitat, moun tain slopes. Distribution, Colorado west to Oregon and California, south to New Mexico and Arizona, including the Great Basin. Uses: Wood for butter tubs and boxing. Best of Western firs for planting in the Eastern States. A favourite ornamental in Europe.
This white fir is known as a silver fir, from the pale foliage and from the grey bark of its branches. The forests of A. magnifica coming down the high slopes meet those of A. concolor coming up.
The trees are gigantic in the Sierras; scarcely of more than medium height and girth among the Rockies. The leaves are unusually long for a fir tree, on lower limbs often 2 to 3 inches. The flowers are conspicuous, the staminate rich red, the pistillate ornamented with backward-turning, finger-lobed bracts. The cones are stout, various in colours, with broad, short scales that quite cover the bracts. The seed wings are rose coloured and lustrous.