European Silver Fir (Abies alba)

European Silver Fir (Abies alba)

Common Name(s): European Silver Fir

Scientific Name: Abies alba
Distribution: Mountainous regions of Europe

Tree Size: 100-150 ft (30-46 m) tall,
                 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 26 lbs/ft3 (415 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .32, .42

Janka Hardness: 320 lbf (1,420 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 9,590 lbf/in2 (66.1 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1200000 lbf/in2 (8.28 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 5,950 lbf/in2 (41.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4%, Tangential: 8.7%,

                  Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 2.2

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is usually white to reddish brown, with pale sapwood that isn’t clearly distinguished from the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a uniform, medium-coarse texture.

Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, with little resistance to insect attacks.

Workability: Generally easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, fir in the Abies genus has been reported to cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Prices should be moderate throughout its natural range in Europe when harvested for construction lumber. Though clear, quartersawn, or other such specialty cuts of fir lumber are likely to be more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Construction lumber, paper (pulpwood), plywood, and other utility wood purposes.

Comments: European Silver Fir can be thought of as the Old World counterpart to North America’s Balsam Fir: they both share a number of similarities in both tree and wood.

European Silver Fir has historically been a favorite Christmas tree species in Europe, though today its mostly replaced with other species of fir and spruce. Resin from its bark has also been used for a number of traditional purposes.

Identification: See the article on Softwood Anatomy for definitions of endgrain features.

European Silver Fir (endgrain 10x)

European Silver Fir (endgrain 10x)

Resin canals: absent (traumatic resin canals occasionally present)

Tracheid diameter: medium

Earlywood to latewood transition: very gradual

Grain contrast: medium

Notes: Fir species can’t be reliably separated from each other on the basis of macroscopic anatomy. (There are slight differences between the various species in density, texture, and grain evenness, but none provide a consistent means for positive identification.) Additionally, fir and hemlock (Tsuga spp.) are two lookalikes that are also difficult to differentiate.


European Silver Fir (Abies alba)

European Silver Fir (raw)

European Silver Fir (wet)

European Silver Fir (oiled)

SoftwoodsPinaceae > Abies > related species

European Silver Fir (Abies alba)

European Silver Fir
(Abies amabilis)

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