A tree up to 120 ft high; young shoots smooth, shining brown; buds reddish, resinous. Leaves standing out nearly at right angles to, and all round the stem, but more densely above than below; the lower ones are the longer and all have the green surface uppermost; they are stiff, sharply pointed; 5⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄12 in. wide; rich glossy green above, and with two well-defined stomatic bands beneath. Cones 4 to 6 in. long, 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide, cylindric, velvety brown, with the bracts protruded beyond the scale and bent downward. Bot. Mag., t. 8691.
Native of the mountains of Greece and of bordering parts of S. Yugoslavia and S. Albania; introduced by General Sir Charles Napier in 1824. For an interesting account of the introduction see Loudon’s Arb. et Frut. Brit., 1838, pp. 2325-9. The Greek fir thrives remarkably well in the British Isles, even in the east and south-east, although the biggest girths are produced in the west. Some care is needed in siting it, however, as it flushes early and may be cut by late frosts. It is one of the most distinctive of the silver firs in its sharp-tipped leaves standing out all round the shoot. These characters, with its glabrous shoots and resinous buds, render it easily recognisable, and distinguish it from all other firs except A. pinsapo, to which it is allied. In that species, however, the radial arrangement of the leaves is much more marked than in the Greek fir; the leaves are also shorter and the bracts of the cone are completely enclosed.
Two trees at Barton, Suffolk, 120 and 110 ft in height when measured by the late Maynard Greville in 1952, are probably from the seed sent by General Napier and planted there by his brother-in-law Sir Henry Bunbury, Bt. Other old trees of known planting date are: Stanage Castle, Radnor, pl. 1841, 80 × 121⁄2 ft (1959), and Inveraray, Argyll, pl. 1849, 78 × 131⁄2 ft (1955).
Among the tallest recorded are: Cortachy Castle, Angus, 118 × 141⁄4 ft and 110 × 17 ft (1962); Bodnant, Denbigh, pl. 1876, 117 × 10 ft (1957); Fulmodestone, Norfolk, 116 × 101⁄2 ft (1959); Bicton, Devon, 113 × 12 ft (1959); Brinkburn Priory, Northumb., 112 × 131⁄4 ft (1958). There are many others of around 110 ft in height, well distributed over the country. The rapid growth of the Greek fir in middle years is shown by a tree at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 25 × 11⁄2 ft (1931) and 78 × 71⁄2 ft (1964).
var. apollinis (Link) Beissn. A. apollinis Link. – In this variety, described from Mt Parnassus, the leaves are more crowded on the upper side of the shoot, and more inclined to point forward; they are also thicker and more abruptly pointed, sometimes rounded, at the apex. But the Greek fir is variable in the wild state and intermediate forms are said to exist. Trees referable to this variety grow at Tilgate, Sussex; Warnham Court, Sussex; Hergest Croft, Heref.; and Haffield House, Heref.