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sábado, 5 de dezembro de 2015

Christmas Scents: Part III, Fir

by: Juliett Ptoyan

Fragrantica continues preparations for the New Year (suddenly there are only four weeks left!); in Christmas Scents, we have already talked about spruceand cinnamon, and today I'd like to introduce you to the fir, the only coniferous tree whose cones grow upwards. Well, yes, fir also meets Agent Cooper on the road toTwin Peaks.
 
Scene from "Twin Peaks" (dir. David Lynch)
 
Kyle MacLachlan mentions Douglas fir (a.k.a. Pseudotsuga menziesii) in the first scenes of his journey, and says that he has never seen so many trees. It is not surprising: this kind of fir make up a large part of the forests of the Pacific coast and originally comes from the northern parts of America (by the way, Twin Peaks was located there).
 
 
The myth that coniferous trees can live only in the harsh climate is not relative to all varieties of fir - there are many among the thermophilic varieties, like the Spanish and Siberian. But "heat-loving" does not mean "sensible to frost": for example, Abies sibirica is tolerant to temperatures as cold as -13 °F (-25 °C), though its growth in such conditions is slower than usual. 
 
 
It may be hard to differentiate among fir varieties, but we have some tips to determine if it is a fir (rather than spruce or pine). There are several characteristic features: first, the shape of the fir crown almost always is symmetrical; secondly, fir has thornless thick needles (slightly wider and longer than spruce's) that are dark green with two white stripes on the sides.
 
Third, fir's cones grow on the top of the tree, and upwards, as we have said before. Also this tree hasn't fir resin checks (thin channels inside the barrel on which the resin flows). As for Canadian (a.k.a. fir) balm - it's made of soft resin from Abies balsamea, the only one who has these ducts - and, according to naturopaths, this viscous substance can cure absolutely any diseases at any stage.
 
And what about essential oils? They are made from some other varieties of fir. In addition to the Canadian, for oil production silver fir (pine, needles, whole and crushed cones that give the greatest output)  is often used - the smell is thin, spicy, balsamic, with a delicate touch of citrus; and the Siberian - its flavor is cooler and less spicy. Be aware of fakes: sometimes producers can replace this oil with fractions of pine extract.
 
 
In perfumery, fir often occurs with other coniferous notes - gusty Chimaera Tiziana Terenzi has canadian balsam mixed with pine; Xeryuscombines fir & cedar; and in Fou d'Absinthe, fir needles quietly pour into the slow flow of absinthe. Aftelier has a thick, balsamic Fir (I like the idea to produce it in solid form, because it's fun to rub, not to be applied with spray); Fir Balsam by Frank Boclet may not be quite as balmy, but it also deserves attention.
Dry, crackling Fraser Fir can be found from DemeterUmbra by Ramon Monegal offers us a fir & oxygen cocktail: this is an airy, cloud-like texture of needles which are evenly distributed while closer to the base it's wrapped in mossy notes.
 
For the New Year's celebration we often use Canadian, Fraser and Nordmann firs - they look great and the needles don't slough; hand made junkies use it also for a festive table setting and to decorate candles; fir needles are also usually added to the steam bath.
 
 
What do you think of the smell of fir? Do you distinguish it from any other conifers, or do you perceive it as similar to other pine-like scents? Maybe you've tried
balsam fir or scents with the same note?
 
Wishing you a fragrant weekend!

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