An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used as a disinfectant and also in medicine and perfumery. It is a common ingredient in many bath products, giving them their familiar pine scent. The bark is a source of tannin.Wood - light, soft, durable, elastic. The timber of this tree is especially sought after for its lightness, it is used for construction, furniture, boxes, pulp etc.
The bark is antiseptic and astringent. It can be harvested as required throughout the year. The leaves are expectorant and a bronchial sedative. They are best harvested in the spring and can be dried for later use. The resin is antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, eupeptic, expectorant, vasoconstrictor and vulnerary. Both the leaves and the resin are common ingredients in remedies for colds and coughs, either taken internally or used as an inhalant. The leaves and/or the resin are used in folk medicine to treat bronchitis, cystitis, leucorrhoea, ulcers and flatulent colic. The resin is also used externally in bath extracts, rubbing oils etc for treating rheumatic pains and neuralgia.Oil of Turpentine, which is obtained from the trunk of the tree, is occasionally used instead of the leaves or the resin. The oil is also rubefacient and can be applied externally in the treatment of neuralgia.
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The silver fir is a very hardy plant when dormant but it comes into growth in April and is then susceptible to damage by late frosts and aphis. This species is particularly subject to aphis infestation in many parts of the country, and is also prone to dieback and rust caused by fungal infections. Trees are slow growing for the first few years but from the age of around 6 years growth accelerates and height increases of 1 metre a year are not uncommon. Grows best in moist valleys in Scotland and in S.W. England where it often self-sows. This species also thrives in E. Anglia. Another report says that this species is not happy in the hot, dry, Lower Thames Valley, and does not thrive in many low-lying and frosty parts of southern England. It has been planted as a timber tree in northern and western Europe. It is also commonly used as a 'Christmas tree'. This tree is notably resistant to honey fungus. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, preferably between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Unlike most species of conifers, this tree can be coppiced and will regenerate from the stump. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus.The cultivar 'Pendula' used to be widely planted for ornament, shelter and timber but because it is now susceptible to damage by Adelges nordmannianae it is seldom planted. Research is going on (1975) to find provenances that are resistant.
Problems, pests & diseases
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Polycultures & Guilds
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