The New Student's Reference Work/Fir

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Fir, a name applied to the true pines, larches and other small evergreens, more properly used to denominate the Norway spruce, the silver fir and their kind. There are about 12 species of the Norway spruce and about 25 or 30 of the silver fir. They are all evergreen-trees. The finest of European firs is the Norway spruce, which attains a height of from 80 to 150 feet. It yields resin, turpentine, tar and lampblack. In Sweden and Norway the inner bark is made into baskets, and the long, slender roots, after being boiled with alkali and sea-salt, are twisted into ropes. The wood is known in the market as the white Christiania deal and the Dantsic deal. Other well-known varieties are the black spruce, white spruce, red spruce and oriental fir. The hemlock spruce of North America is also well known. Its wood is not much prized, but the bark is valued for tanning. The Douglas fir attains a height of 250 feet, and forms immense forests in the northwest of America. The common silver-fir abounds upon the mountains of Central Europe and the north of Asia, and attains a height of 150 to 180 feet and an age of 300 years. It yields the clear turpentine known as Strassburg turpentine. The balm-of-Gilead fir is a native of North America, yielding Canada balsam. Spruce-beer is made from the small branches of the black spruce, and the thread used by the Indians in sewing their birch-bark canoes is made from the roots of the white spruce.