The Bristlecone Fir or Santa Lucia Fir (Abies bracteata) is a rare fir, confined to the bottoms of rocky canyons on the west slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains of southwest California, USA.
It is a tree 20-35 m tall, with a slender, spire-like form. The bark is reddish-brown with wrinkles, lines and resin vesicles ('blisters'). The branches are downswept. The needle-like leaves are arranged spirally on the shoot, but twisted at the base to spread either side of the shoot in two moderately forward-pointing ranks with a 'v' gap above the shoot; hard and stiff with a sharply pointed tip, 3.5-6 cm long and 2.5-3 mm broad, with two bright white stomatal bands on the underside. The cones are ovoid, 6_9 cm long (to 12 cm including the bracts), and differ from other firs in that the bracts end in very long, spreading, yellow-brown bristles 3-5 cm long; they disintegrate in autumn to release the winged seeds. The male (pollen) cones are 2 cm long, shedding pollen in spring.
Firs (Abies) are a genus of between 45-55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae.
Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by the fact that their needle-like leaves are attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup, and by erect, cylindrical cones 5-25 cm long that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds.
The wood of most firs is considered inferior, and is often used as pulp or for the manufacture of plywood and rough timber.
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