The silver fir is part of the few species of fir spread in nature even in our country; it is a very long-lived and large-sized evergreen conifer, the adult specimens can reach 40 meters in height, but in the arc of some tens of years. They have a typical conical crown in the "young" specimens, with time it tends to swell up in the upper part of the plant. The branches have a typical arrangement, and make it easy to distinguish the plant from other conifers, in fact the main branches are always horizontal with respect to the ground, while the second branches have a spiral arrangement; there are no hanging branches. Also the needles have a typical shape, in fact they are flattened, linear, of green-gray color, which give a dark shade to the whole of the crown. The white firs are majestic trees, large, suitable for the parks of the towns of the mountain places, there are no dwarf or small varieties. In nature these trees hardly grow close to each other, more often they are found in woods consisting of spruce (picea abies) and beech (fagus silvatica); this happens because the soil formed by the leaves of the white fir is not very favorable to the development of young plants that have just sprouted. Therefore it often happens to find single specimens of abies alba in the woods.
These firs are scarcely cultivated in Italy, most of the cultivated specimens are used to produce Christmas trees; of some white firs wood is also used, which has the characteristic of being almost devoid of resin, unlike any other conifer.
How to grow it
The silver fir is a plate that loves the shade, the fresh and moist soil, a cold climate; it is a real mountain tree, so it is absolutely not suitable for gardens in the plains, where it tends to grow too quickly and to be easy prey for pests and diseases. Therefore it is put to stay in shady places, or with few hours of sun per day; it bears short periods of drought, but prefers places with good rainfall, although it does not like prolonged water stagnation.
Like all mountain plants, it bears very well the cold, and does not fear intense and prolonged frosts, with temperatures close to -25 ° C.
The linear needles and the elegant bearing of the young specimens make it an ideal plant to use as a Christmas tree; we remember however that the white firs are hardly cultivated in Italy, and these trees are not suitable to be cultivated in garden in the city, for this reason, wanting to choose to prepare a live Christmas tree, it is perhaps advisable to avoid a white fir, if not for those who are lucky enough to live in the mountainous areas of our peninsula.
If we have procured a living Christmas tree of silver fir, let us avoid bringing it home for the holidays, and let's decorate it in the garden, or on the terrace, keeping it in a place where it doesn't receive sunlight directly.
If instead we decide to plant a conifer in the garden, in an area with mild winters, we avoid choosing a silver fir; these plants grow a lot over the decades, and the pruning of the top inexorably leads to producing awkward and malformed foliage plants.
The pine cones
Conifers form a large family of plants, which are characterized by having linear and waxy foliage, to produce an aromatic resin, but above all, and from this derives their name, because they produce cones; the fruits that derive from these inflorescences are called strobili; commonly coniferous cones are called pine cones.
The oldest plants still present on earth, known as gymnosperms, do not produce the flowers we are used to, colored and with delicate petals: instead they produce particular male and female inflorescences. The male cones are called microsporophylls, and consist of polliniferous leaves (also called scales) arranged in rounded or cylindrical formations. The female cones are called macrosporophylls, and are made up of fertile leaves.
Reproduction of the shrub
Cones are produced by gymnosperms in general in spring; some ripen in the same year, others take several months to pass from flower to seed.
Typically, the maturing feminine strobes become woody, and break, dividing into leaves, among which fertile, often winged, seeds are present.
Not only do conifers produce strobili, in fact there are some types of strobes.
The most typical and simple are the cones of conifers, in fact, there are also the cones of the junipers, which are roundish and fleshy, similar to berries, and are scientifically called fleshy galbuli. Then there are the woody galbuli, the fruits of the cypress, which are green pallets, which become woody when ripe. Another type of strobilus is the aril, or a single seed partially covered with a soft pulp, as is the case with the fruits of the yew or ginkgo. In addition to conifers, other plants are also gymnosperms, such as ginkgo, but zamia, chikas; for this reason even in these plants so different from conifers we can notice inflorescences or fruits that are very reminiscent of the pine cones.