Firs have single straight trunks and narrow pyramidal crowns. Branches are regularly whorled; leaves are flat and needlelike. Cones are erect and usually restricted to upper branches. Pollination occurs in spring; seeds are mature in the fall. The bracts (modified leaves) and scales (ovule-bearing structures) are shed from the cone axis with the winged seeds.
Firs are stately trees, making them popular as Christmas trees. The first Christmas tree in North America was a fir lit with candles and gracing the dining room of the baroness Friederike von Riedesel in Sorel (now Sorel-Tracy), Québec, in 1781. The relatively light, soft, weak wood is used extensively for pulp, paper and lumber.
Author JOHN N. OWENS
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Flora of North America
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