A tree growing in western, central and southern Europe
. In France
, it is found at mountain heights (900 to 2000 metres) in the Pyrenees
, and also in the Massif Central
. In central Europe, it also grows at lower elevations in hilly country but in southern Europe only in the mountains.
The silver fir is one of the largest European trees, reaching heights of more than 60 metres in virgin forests and living for five hundred years. Its name is derived from the smooth, silvery-grey bark. The buds are non-resinous. The needles are arranged in two opposite ranks on the twig, leaving a circular leaf scar upon falling. The yellow male flowers are clustered on the underside of the previous year's shoots, the female flowers, resembling small green candles, are borne on the upper part of the crown. By autumn they develop into cylindrical cones that mature in late September and then disintegrate. The European silver fir grows well in shade when young, but requires moist soil and clean air, and is susceptible to sever winter frosts. In drier climates, and in areas with polluted atmosphere, it is on the decline. It is, therefore, not suited for planting in city parks. The wood is soft and light and is used mainly in the building industry.