The Alpine Fir


Alpine Fir
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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide

Alpine1.Gif
ALPINE FIR
Abies lasiocarpa

  • The Alpine Fir is also know as Subalpine Fir, White Balsam Fir
  • The Alpine Fir is often mistaken for balsam (fir) which is an eastern species
  • 'Abies' is from the Latin 'abeo' which means "rising" referring to the great height these trees can reach
  • "Fir" is from 'fuhr' the old English word for 'fire' denoting the tree's use as firewood


UNIQUE FEATURES:

  • The Alpine Fir is does not live long (120 to 140 years); is susceptible to different fungus
  • The lichens that are found on the lower branches are food for caribou

LOCATION:

  • The Alpine Fir is found at high elevations but near sea level on the north coast
  • Throughout most of the interior of the province
  • No true firs exist on the Queen Charlotte Islands

SIZE:

  • The Alpine Fir is usually 20 to 35 metres but can reach up to 50 metres in height

CONES:

  • The cones of the Alpine Fir is deep purple, lighter colour as they age, cylindrical
  • Grow upright on branches in upper levels of the tree
  • Disintegrate on the tree to release their seeds
  • Pollen cones: bluish colour

Alpine2.Gif
NEEDLES:

  • The needles of the Alpine Fir is appear to be blown upward on the branches
  • Blunt and notched at the tip
  • Blue-green with white bands on the upper and lower surfaces

BARK:

  • Smooth, grey, blistered
  • Becoming scaly as the tree ages

USES:

  • Modern - lumber, plywood, veneers, boxes, pulp
  • Traditional - wood, bark, boughs: roof shingles, bark baskets, bedding; seeds - eaten; pitch - coating canoe seams, rubbing on bow strings, medicine; rotten wood - smudge fires for tanning hides

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The Alpine Fir