Abies Cilicica / Cilician Fir

Cilician Fir now a world endangered species.  It grows in the mountains of Northern Syria, Lebanon, and Southern Turkey. It’s a tall, narrow conifer often confused with the tree that most people in this country turn to for Christmas trees if they have a real one; Abies nordmanniana Nordmann Fir.

Unusually for a conifer the roots of this tree prefer soil that is more limestone based or more neutral than the more acidic nature that most conifers prefer.  If they find soils like this (calcareous) then the trunk can produce at least 60ft x 2ft boards of several thicknesses.  Which is probably why they have been harvesting it for centuries. (3000+ years)

1 Kings 5 v 8: And Hiram sent to Solomon saying “ I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar and timber of fir”

1 Kings 6 v 34 And the two doors were of Fir tree: the two leaves of one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.

1 Kings 9 v 11 Solomon gave Hiram twenty towns in the land of Galilee as for all the Cedar and Fir lumber and gold he furnished for the construction of the buildings.

So, Solomon was building his great temple, and palaces, ruins of which can still be seen today.  So, he needed timber, lots of it, the best that money could buy.  It’s not surprising therefore that the tree being discussed is now on the IUCN list of endangered species since it has been commercially logged since Solomon’s time and where it still struggles to grow is ravaged by war between Syria, Iran and Turkey.

Translations in use today prefer the word Cypress for Fir in the verses above, some even use Juniper, which I have great difficulty with.  Though both Cypress and Juniper have species that grow in the Mediterranean Region, neither produce trees with trunks large enough for what Solomon required outside the Americas yet to be discovered.  Secondly timber from Mediterranean cypress’s smell dry and musty, and juniper wood though extremely attractive smells like cat pee.  Fir tree wood very resinous smells like Christmas and more befitting the first Cathedral ever built.

Because of its long logging history since biblical times this tree is now on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Tree register of World Endangered Species.