Abies densa

Abies densa

The Himalayan alpine fir (Abies densa Griff.) Is an arboreal species belonging to the Pinaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Pinophyta Division,
Pinopsida class,
Order Pinales,
Pinaceae family,
Genus Abies,
A. densa species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Abies fabrei subsp. fordii (Rushforth) Silba;
– Abies fabri subsp. fordei (Rushforth) Silba;
– Abies fordei Rushforth;
– Abies spectabilis subsp. densa (Griff.) Silba;
– Abies spectabilis var. densa (Griff.) Silba.

Etymology –
The term Abies comes from Abies which is the classical Latin name (Virgil, Egloghe, from the Sanskrit root abh gush of resin); according to another interpretation it would derive from the Greek word ἄβιος = long-lived.
The specific name dense is in reference to the appearance of the foliage.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Abies densa is an endemic plant of the Himalaya region, present in the range that includes the region of Xizang (China), Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Darjeeling, Sikkim (India), Bhutan and Nepal.
Its habitat is that of the high Himalayan mountain altitudes between 2,400 and 3,700 m and more, with a monsoon climate and annual rainfall greater than 2,000 mm, relatively hot summers and cold and snowy winters, where it grows on deep slopes, both rocky and not, where a variety of alpine lithosols are found. In these areas it forms pure woods, but is often found in association with Betula utilis, Acer caudatum, Acer pectinatum and species of the genera Prunus and Sorbus at lower altitudes; at higher altitudes in association with Picea spinulosa, Tsuga dumosa, Larix griffithiana and Juniperus squamata.

Description –
Abies densa is a tree that grows up to a height of about 60 m.
The trunk can reach 2.5 m in diameter, with a conical bearing with branches that can become hanging over the years. The secondary branches are yellow to red-brown in color, tending to gray with age, glabrous or slightly pubescent.
The bark is gray and scaly which becomes cracked and coarsely plated with age.
The leaves are needle-like, up to 2-4 cm long, are arranged in a comb, flat with a revolute margin and stomata arranged on two bands on the lower page.
The male strobili are lateral on the shoots, 2-4.5 cm long, yellow with blue-purple microsporophylls.
The female strobili are of a purple blue color when immature, blackish purple when ripe; they are cylindrical with blunt or umbilicated tip, up to 12 cm long and up to 5.5 cm broad, with short or sessile peduncle; the scales are flabellate-wedge-shaped, 2 cm long, 2.5 cm wide, covered with hair in the exposed parts. The seeds, brown in color, are 8 mm long, cuneate in shape, with 1 cm brown wings, also cuneate.

Cultivation –
Abies densa is a dominant conifer in the upper coniferous belt of the central and eastern Himalayas from Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and adjacent Tibet to Burma (Myanmar), at altitudes between 2800 and 3700 m.
It grows in a monsoon climate, with over 2,000 mm of annual rainfall, with hot and humid summers and cold and snowy winters and forms mixed deciduous and coniferous forests up to the edge of the alpine forest. At lower altitudes, we find it in association with: Acer caudatum, A. pectinatum, Prunus spp., Sorbus spp. and Rhododendron spp. Above about 3,000 m of altitude, we find Picea spinulosa and Tsuga dumosa, while at the edge of the wood it can be found with Larix griffithiana, Juniperus squamata and Betula utilis.
It is a plant that resists limit cold temperatures between -12.1 ° C and -6.7 ° C.
Propagation can take place via seed and recently cultivated in parks and gardens outside its range.

Customs and Traditions –
The dense Abies is a tree that is used and exploited in the eastern Himalayas for the construction of houses, especially the internal parts. Within its range, it is an important wood plant, used for local construction. It has only recently been introduced in European parks and botanical gardens, where it is highly prized for its ornamental characteristics. For this purpose it is a surprising ornamental plant, which is however rarely encountered.
From an ecological point of view, with a very large area (about 20,000 km²), and a very common presence, A. densa is not classified as endangered species on the IUCN Red List and, therefore, is not currently threatened.

Preparation Method –
The dense Abies is a conifer used only for the use of timber and, recently, for ornamental purposes.
No other uses of food or medicine are known.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.
Photo source:
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