Conifer, evergreen, symmetrically pyramidal, or narrow-conical when young; branchlets smooth or grooved. Leaves (needles) spirally inserted, usually flat, in most species two white or pale stomatic bands and keeled on underside, slightly constricted at the base but lack petioles. Leaf scars large, round, and flat. Female cones borne upright, leaves on cone-bearing upper branches are not typical. Fairly slow growing landscape plants. Generally require moist, well-drained soil, high humidity, cool temperatures. Many do not perform well in the hot, dry summers of the lower midwest and south. Nearly 50 species of Abies, but less than a dozen species generally used in landscaping.
Abies: from the Latin abire, to rise, a reference to the great height that some species attain.
Fir flat needles (usually) and friendly (to the touch, usually, but Spanish Fir is sharp pointed)
Spruce sharp, square (needles in cross-section)
Pine in packages (needles in groups of 2, 3, 5, rarely one)