Special features of the white fir wood

The silver fir (Lat. Abies Alba) is a quite unusual wood species, which grows in Germany preferentially in the south, in particular in the low mountain ranges of the Black Forest.

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Naming and History

The silver fir (Lat. Abies Alba) is a quite unusual wood species, which grows in Germany preferentially in the south, in particular in the low mountain ranges of the Black Forest. The name silver fir refers to the light bark of the tree.

The trees can grow up to 600 years old and up to 65 m high, making them one of the largest and oldest tree species in Central Europe, whose wood was already used for shipbuilding and timber construction in the Middle Ages. Later, from the 17th to the 19th century, whole tree trunks were exported to Holland, where the trunks were used as mast trees for the ships of the Dutch merchant fleet. This is why the silver fir was often referred to as the Dutch fir.

Periodic clear cutting of the native forests (e.g. reparation cuts to France after World War II as part of reparation payments) has decimated the silver fir in our forests in recent centuries. Also because of the high sensitivity to air pollution, the white fir population decreased considerably between 1960 and 1990. Also in the Black Forest, the fast-growing spruce was planted for this reason, which, unlike the fir, grows well on bare areas and reacts less sensitively to air pollution.

In recent years, the silver fir has regained its popularity as it has beneficial properties from the point of view of the forestry community – it tolerates shade and is therefore a good mixed tree species in domestic forests, it forms a strong root system and is quite resistant to drought and storms. In addition to these properties, the increasing demand for light and knotless woods as well as the educational work of the White Fir Forum play a major role in the resurgence of the White Fir species.

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The Black Forest silver fir is a very special type of wood. For example, over 360 cubic metres of silver fir were used in the Geroldsauer Mühle near Baden-Baden, making the hotel restaurant the largest silver fir building in Europe.

Use of the wood

The wood of the silver fir is very similar to that of the spruce; it is comparatively soft and light and has very good bending and compressive strength. Because of these properties – the same with spruce – this wood is often used in the wood industry.

Unlike other softwood species, fir wood is resin-free and is therefore well suited for interior finishing. In order to increase the value of the wood, the still young fir trees are pruned by foresters up to a height of 10 – 15 m. The wood is then used for the interior construction. As soon as the trees are felled, the wood of the silver fir is knot-free outside the delimbed area and thus even more attractive for the wood industry in general and for the production of floorboards, wall coverings and furniture in particular.