Finishing up my fall pruning the other day when I noticed these remnant cores of the cones of a Frazer Fir (Abies fraseri). They look pretty scary close up but they are benign in that they are brittle, breaking off before they can stab you. You can see at their base here some of the remaining scales of these female cones that cradle a seed. By this time of year, the cones have disintegrated and their scales and seeds disbursed by the wind. These remaining spikes will slough off by spring.
In the northeast, Fraser Fir is the favorite choice for Christmas trees because it has the best needle retention of all the usual suspects. Its cousin, the Balsam Fir, is prized in these parts for its fragrance but it can become a maintenance issue once it’s brought into a warm room when it comes out of dormancy and quickly dries out. For this reason, the Fraser fir has been the White House Christmas tree more times than other conifer species.
Fir cones are unique among most conifers in that they grow upright on their branches as opposed to drooping downward and/or suspended from the ends of branches. Some fir conifer cultivars are an attractive purple or blue color before they mature into the traditional brown like this Fraser. The species has soft, flexible needles that don’t stick you like spruce. They also show more silver on their underside.
Named for the Scottish botanist, plant collector and nurseryman John Fraser (1750-1810), who was among the first to identify this species in its native range of the higher elevations of the southeast Appalachian mountains, Frasers are widely cultivated in Christmas tree farms here, Quebec and in the UK and northern Europe.
And that’s a good thing because in the Blue Ridge Mountains it calls home, native Fraser firs are being devastated by the invasive Balsam woolly adelgid insect to such a degree that it is now listed as endangered.
#gardendesign #landscaperdesign #landscapearchitects #landscapearchitect #garden #landscape_lovers #landscaping #landscape #landscapedesign #landscape_specialist #mainegarden #mainegardens #conifers #conifer #dwarfconifer #dwarfconifers #nature #naturelovers #horticulture