GRAND FIR [Abies grandis]
Maryann Berrafatto & Jeanne Rose  
[fall 2001 issue of the Aromatic News]

            This large, grand tree is Abies grandis,  the Grand Fir that lives in the coniferous forests of the Northwest as well as being used as a landscape tree in many places of the world.  Here in San Francisco , Grand Fir is used throughout the city for its shapely beauty and scent.  In Strybing Arboretum, in the Redwood Forest (which 100 years ago was a lake on the edge of the Sunset District), the Grand Fir has a prominent place.  When walking in the Redwood Forest , take along a 5 foot long  hooked cane so that you can pull down a branch of this handsome tree and smell the needles. There is a confer and citrus note to the needles that is particularly appealing.

History: Kwakwakawaku shamans wove its branches into headdresses and costumes and used the branches for scrubbing individuals in purification rites.  The Hesquiat tribes used its branches as incense and decorative clothing for wolf dancers.  Grand Fir bark was sometimes mixed with Stinging Nettles and boiled and the resulting decoction used for bathing and as a general tonic.  The Lushoot tribe boiled needles to make a medicinal tea for colds (it contains vitamin C).  The Hesquait mixed the pitch of young trees with animal oil and rubbed it on the scalp as a deodorant and to prevent baldness.

            Abies alba which is the tallest European tree and lives to 350 years is much grown for construction work and telegraph poles and was favoured by the Greeks and Romans for building fast warships, especially for oars of triremes.  But since 1900 this tree has been much attacked by aphids and has been replaced by A. grandis (D. Don) Lindley (white or giant fir) from Northwest America .  This tree reaches 100 meters and was introduced into Great Britain in 1834 and grew to a height of more than 62 meters by 1989.

Current Uses: Grand Fir has that delicious holiday Christmas tree odor.  It is green and vegetative in its back note, slightly citrus in its subsidiary note and strongly coniferous in the top note.  The smell is rich and sweet and joyous.  Grand fir is used at the holiday season to scent the air and keep it fresh and airy or to aerate the sickroom. Use a mixture of 10% Grand fir to 90% water or a conifer hydrosol to spray the room and scent the air or use 5050 Grand Fir to Rosemary or mint hydrosol water solution for refreshing the sick room.  When using at holiday time and this includes any time during the season between All-Hallows and Valentines Day, spray the tree, spray your rooms, spray the wreaths, spray the bathrooms, spritz the decorations or the furniture, to keep everything fresh and smelling good.

Perfumery and Cosmetics: Grand fir can be added as a fresh note to many different types of perfume blends. When one is traveling and comes across those nasty  smelling amenities that smell of Bitter Almonds  it is only Grand Fir essential oil that can be added to the shampoo or hand lotion samples that will negate the bitter almond smell and add its own delicious sweet conifer note. Grand Fir essential oil mixed with other essential oils can act either as scent or therapy to all kinds of custom skin care products. Grand Fir can also be used as an inhalant with other conifers for all types of  respiratory problems and conditions.

Contraindications for this oil:  non toxic.

Holiday Kit

            Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy has a Holiday/Party Essential Oil kit that contains this rare and beautiful oil for all your environmental needs.  The kit normally retails for $45 + $8.50 for shipping and handling. It contains 5 other essential oils, all pure and undiluted and ready for use. The kit with its selection of oils is packaged in a handmade tapestry bag with a holiday motif and contains a laminated card with all directions for use.  

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