Firs are evergreen coniferous trees belonging to the genus Abies (/ˈeɪbiˌiz/) in the family Pinaceae. There are approximately 48–56 extant species, found on mountains throughout much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The genus is most closely related to Cedrus (cedar).
|Korean fir (Abies koreana) cones and foliage|
The genus name is derived from the Latin "to rise" in reference to the height of its species. The common English name originates with the Old Norse, fyri, or the Old Danish, fyr.
They are large trees, reaching heights of 10–80 metres (33–262 feet) tall with trunk diameters of 0.5–4 m (1 ft 8 in – 13 ft 1 in) when mature. Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by the way in which their needle-like leaves are attached singly to the branches with a base resembling a suction cup, and by their cones, which, like those of true cedars, stand upright on the branches like candles and disintegrate at maturity.
Identification of the different species is based on the size and arrangement of the leaves, the size and shape of the cones, and whether the bract scales of the cones are long and exserted, or short and hidden inside the cone.