Abies (fir) species are usually of more northern distribution and found at higher altitudes. Sap-filled "blisters" on the trunks of some species provide balsam. Larix (larch) and Pseudolarix (golden larch, of China) are the only two deciduous genera. Picea (spruce) is the world's most important source of paper. Cedrus (cedar) ranges from the Mediterranean area to the Himalayas; Keteleeria is restricted to E and SE Asia.
Tsuga (hemlock) and Pseudotsuga are native only to North America and E Asia. Pseudotsuga menziesii (the Douglas fir) of W North America, one of the tallest trees known (up to 385 ft/117 m) and the leading timber-producing tree of the continent, is carefully controlled by forestry measures. Its wood, usually hard and strong, is of great commercial importance for construction; it is also commonly used as a Christmas tree in the United States. Named for David Douglas, the tree has many local names, e.g., Douglas spruce, Oregon pine, red fir, and yellow fir.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.