Abies, better known as ‘firs’, make up over fifty species and are native to North and Central America, Europe, Asia and North Africa. Over most of their range, they occur in mountains and are related to the cedars.
Many forms of this genus are extremely large but most of the garden forms are compact, evergreen conifers. They are perfect for high altitude and extremely cold gardens, tolerating temperatures down to -20 Celsius. They are conical in habit, having short, flattened needles, arranged on top of or around the branches and many have a glaucous (grey) colour. Their cones are often blue tinted and highly resinous, sitting upright on branches rather than hanging from them. These firs prefer a cool, moist soil with plenty of summer rain and generally do not do well in hot, dry climates.
Noble firs, Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are better known for their use as Christmas trees in North America, having the attributes of aromatic foliage and of not shedding needles when they dry out.
Abies balsamea- Balsam Fir
The Korean and Fraser Fir are decorative garden trees, producing attractive cones even when only 1-2m in height. The Korean Fir, in its many varieties, is native of the Korean Peninsula and offshore islands, a popular and hardy garden ornamental with violet purple cones.
Abies koreana - Korean Fir
They can be raised from seed and propagated from selected cuttings in summer.