All About Fir Trees

Thursday, January 20, 2022 14:09:53 PM America/Los_Angeles

Firs and pine trees can seem almost identical, but they have distinct characteristics that make them unique. Fir trees are indeed part of the pine family, but are a distinct genus with about 50 species! Like other pine trees, firs bear cones and have leaves that resemble needles. So what distinguishes the majestic fir from other trees in the family? Read on to find out more about what sets the fir tree apart. 

Photo by Mael BALLAND

When and Where Do Fir Trees Grow?

Fir trees grow in countries as diverse as China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, the U.S., and more. These trees primarily grow in the northern hemisphere, but they can be found as far south as Argentina and Uruguay, because they’re native to cold mountainous regions.

Firs are evergreen, meaning they are growing year round. But spring and early summer is when they pollinate. Firs will grow about two feet a year, so it does take time for the seedling to become a tree. If you’re planning to grow a fir tree, make sure to do your homework because they can range from 30 feet to 250 feet! 

How Do Fir Trees Reproduce?

The fir tree reproduces by releasing winged seeds from its cones. Firs have unique cone shapes that are less acorn-like as seen with the pine tree. Instead, firs have elongated cylindrical cones that grow upwards rather than hang. These cones range widely in color and can be a chocolate brown, bright green, or even purple in appearance!

What Are Fir Trees Used/Known For? 

The Abies religiosa, or the sacred fir, has the honor of being the monarch butterfly’s preferred home over the winter. Firs in general also provide food to caterpillars, moths, and other critters. 

Wood from fir trees tend to be softer and are thus used for pulp instead of timber. Fir wood is less hardy than pine, which is why it’s very unlikely that you’ll come across furniture made from fir anytime soon. However, fir trees have become one of the most iconic types of Christmas trees alongside pine trees with many preferring the fir’s bushy needles to that of the pine. 

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