Abies alba


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Abies alba
Species Authority: Mill.
Common Name/s:
English Silver Fir
French Sapin pectiné

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-07-13
Assessor/s: Farjon, A.
Reviewer/s: Thomas, P. & Rushforth, K.
Abies alba is the only widespread species of fir in Europe. Its extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are beyond any of the thresholds for a threatened category and there is no evidence of continuing decline. In some areas it is probably increasing. As a result it is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: A European endemic: recorded from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians, Italy (Apennines) and in the Balkan Peninsula to Bulgaria and northern Greece.
Albania; Austria; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; France (Corsica); Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Montenegro; Poland; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The overall population trend is stable with some increases in areas where natural regeneration is promoted.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Primarily a montane species, usually occurring between 500 and 1,500 m, but as low as 300 m in the Bavarian Forest, up to 1,950 m in the Pyrenees and in the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria. Soils are usually well drained sandy loams from silicate rocks or limestone derivatives. The climate is cool temperate, comparatively humid (precipitation often >1,000 mm/year), with abundant snowfall but moderately low temperatures in the winter. The species often forms large forests, either pure, mixed with other conifers (Picea abies, locally Pinus sylvestris) or mixed with broad leaved trees (Fagus sylvatica), in a belt between deciduous forest in the valleys and coniferous forest composed of other species of Pinaceae towards the tree limit. Of the European native conifers, A. alba is most capable of competing with Beech (F. sylvatica) at altitudes where the latter becomes less vigorous and is the first of the conifers to appear among them (Ellenberg 1988).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Silver Fir's area of occupancy has been reduced over the last two centuries as a result of  deforestation, over-exploitation and afforestation with faster growing exotic species. Air pollution and acid rain have also effected stands in some parts of its range. Over the last several decades this decline has ceased as patterns of land use change, forest management priorities shift and air pollution levels drop.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Abies alba occurs in numerous protected areas throughout its range. Examples include Pirin National Park in Bulgaria and Apuseni National Park in Romania where extensive stands of undisturbed forest are protected. Guidelines have also been produced to aid forest managers to encourage fir regeneration in managed forests and to control the type of replanting material used in those areas (Wolf 2003).

Bibliography [top]

Ellenberg, H. 1988. Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Farjon, A. 2010. Conifer Database (June 2008) In Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2010 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., eds). Reading, UK. Available at:

Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Feurdean, A. and Willis, K.J. 2008. Long-term variability of Abies alba in NW Romania: implications for its conservation management. Diversity and Distributions 14: 1004-1017.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Oliva, J. and Colinas, C. 2007. Decline of silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) stands in the Spanish Pyrenees: Role of management, historic dynamics and pathogens. Forest Ecology and Management 252: 84-97.

Wolf, H. 2003. EUFORGEN Technical Guidelines for genetic conservation and use for silver fir (Abies alba). International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Abies alba. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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