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The true firs, genus Abies, are a diverse group of over 50 species of beautiful trees with high horticultural value. They are mostly cool weather trees that inhabit mountainous regions of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Some unusual species, however, have better tolerance to heat and humidity, such as Abies firma.
Their cultivars range in size and shape from very small to prostrate, columnar, weeping, or pyramidal. Needle colors can be various shades of green, blue, silver-white, or golden depending on the variety. Fir cones sit upright on the branches and display an array of bright colors which are ornamental in themselves. Some unusual firs include Abies squamata, or Flaky Fir, whose unique, reddish-brown bark peels off in thin strips, Abies koreana, that has curved needles showing off the silver-white undersides, and Abies koreocarpa which is a hybrid of Abies koreana, the Korean Fir, and Abies lasiocarpa, the Subalpine Fir. It has beautiful blue foliage, and is narrowly pyramidal, growing more than 12” per year.