Fir

Abies spp

fir tree, fir cones, cones
DukeAsh (CC0), Pixabay

The firs are a genus of about 50 species of coniferous evergreen trees. They have flat, needle-like leaves that are attached to the branch with a base that resembles a very small suction cup. The undersides of the leaves have waxy whitish/grayish lines, and the top sides of the leaf are usually uniformly colored, or close to it, green or silvery-greenish or bluish. The cones of fir trees usually grow upright in a cylindrical shape. They fall apart when they are ready to release their seeds, which are winged.

Fir wood is white and soft and may be sold as “whitewood” boards, not recommended for outdoor use as they decay quickly, but suitable for framing, furniture, and whittling. Many species are utilized as “Christmas Trees” because their needles aren’t as prickly as other evergreens and they don’t tend to drop them as readily.

Several lepidoptera species feed on fir trees.

Some Species of fir

  • Abies alba silver fir, native to Europe, can reach 160ft in height. Essential oils are extracted from this tree for aromatherapeutic purposes, the leaves, bark and wood was once used for making “spruce beer”. A traditional “Christmas tree” fir.
  • Abies nordmanniana Nordmann fir, Caucasian fir. Native to Eastern Europe. Can reach a height of 250 feet. Young trees are very popular “Christmas trees”.
  • Abies grandis giant fir. Native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America, enjoys high altitudes. The inner bark was used medicinally. Has a citrus scent. Used for Christmas trees in the region.
  • Abies balsamea balsam fir. Native to Eastern North America. Reaches 60 feet in height. Produces resin blisters on bark; Canada balsam, used medicinally, as a glue and fixative to mount microscopic specimens.
  • Abies religiosa sacred fir. Native to central and southern Mexico mountainous regions. Local Christmas tree. The preferred resting site for the Monarch butterfly in winter.
  • Abies koreana Korean fir. Native to South Korea. a popular ornamental tree for gardens
  • Abies fraseri Fraser fir. Native to the Appalachian region of the US. One of the most popular Christmas trees, often used as the Christmas tree at the White House.

Related species

Fir is most closely related to cedar.
The Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii is a different genus, not really a fir.

Growing Fir Trees

There are fir trees adapted to many different climates. Choose a species that best suits yours.

Harvesting

Gather resin in the height of summer

Using Fir for Magick

The energy of the fir tree corresponds to the planet Jupiter and the element Earth. Fir needles can be used as incense to help lift a negative atmosphere. If smoke is not appropriate, try simmering them. The essential oil can be used as well.

Fir trees symbolize immortality, taking the long view and seeing situations clearly.

Fir resin can be used to “seal” a spell, or as a fixative for any magical craft.

Needles of silver fir may be burned for ceremonies to bless mother and baby. Or wet them and use them to sprinkle water over mother and baby (most birthing centers do not take kindly to burning things in their rooms).

Use fir trees and fir boughs to decorate for your midwinter holidays.

Most fir species can be used interchangeably for magical use, and they all produce resin. Use your intuition if you need to substitute a species that is native to your area for one that is not.

Medicinal use of Fir Trees

The inner bark of the Giant fir was used to treat colds and fevers.
Balsam fir resin has been used as a cold remedy and to seal wounds and the needles can be steeped for a source of vitamin C.

A bath tea of fir needles is helpful for rheumatic conditions.

decoction of white fir bark and needles can be drunk to help with chest colds and similar complaints. Essential oil of fir can be added to chest rubs to help relieve congestion.

Before using fir, do a skin patch test to check for sensitivities.

Other uses of Fir

Balsam fir oil is a non-toxic rodent repellent, approved by the EPA. Balsam fir is also used in incense, potpourri and air fresheners.

Learn More Online

Survival Uses of Balsam Fir Pitch
White Fir at NMSU’s medicinal plant database
Balsam Fir at Herbs2000

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