Abies forrestii

Abies forrestii

The Forrest fir (Abies forrestei Coltm.-Rog.) 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,
Species A. forrestei.
The terms are synonymous:
– Abies chayuensis W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu;
– Abies chengii Rushforth;
– Abies delavayi Diels;
– Abies delavayi forrestii (Coltm.-Rog.) A.B.Jacks.;
– Abies ferreana Bordères & Gaussen;
– Abies forrestii Craib;
– Abies georgei Hand.-Mazz.;
– Abies georgei Orr.;
– Abies rolii Bordères & Gaussen;
– Abies yuana Bordères & Gaussen.
Within this species, the following varieties are recognized:
– Abies forrestei var. ferreana (Bordères & Gaussen) Farjon & Silba – Endemic variety of Yunnan and south-east of Xizang, in China.
– Abies forrestei var. georgei (Orr) Farjon – Endemic variety of Sichuan, Yunnan and Xizang, in China
– Abies forrestei var. smithii R.Vig. & Gaussen – Endemic variety of northwestern Yunnan, China.

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 epithet forrestei was given in honor of George Forrest, a Scottish botanist, explorer of the Chinese province of Yunnan and first discoverer of A. forrestei.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Abies forrestii is a conifer endemic to southwestern China (Sichuan, Yunnan and Xizang).
Its habitat is that of mountain altitudes between 2,400 and 4,300 m, where the climate is cold and humid with annual rainfall reaching 2,000 mm, on podzol soils. It forms pure woods at higher altitudes, while at lower altitudes it is more frequently mixed in association with Picea likiangensis, Tsuga dumosa, Larix potaninii, Betula albo-sinensis and species of the genera Acer and Sorbus; the typical undergrowth is characterized by Rhododendron.

Description –
Abies forrestii is a tree up to 40 m high.
The trunk is cylindrical and straight which can reach 1,5 m in diameter and the bark is gray-brown, smooth, tending to become dark brown and to split longitudinally with maturity.
The crown has a conical shape.
The secondary branches are hairless or slightly wrinkled, purple or orange-brown in color when young, and turn gray with age.
The leaves are needle-like, dark green, up to 3 cm long, spirally arranged in two lateral rows, with serrated apex, sometimes obtuse or acute. The buds are ovoid, 1 cm long, resinous.
Male strobili are 3-4.5 cm long, yellow with purple microsporophylls.
The female strobili, purplish blue when immature, dark brown when ripe, are cylindrical with obtuse or depressed top, 6-10 cm long and up to 4 cm broad; the scales are pubescent, 2 cm long, 1,8 cm broad, with entire margin. The seeds are brown, obovate, about 8 mm long, with obovate light brown wing.

Cultivation –
Abies forrestii is an evergreen tree that is used in nature for its wood, which is traded commercially.
It grows in montane forests, consisting mainly of pure populations but also with mixed conifers and broad-leaved trees especially at the edges of the forests, which grow on gray-brown mountain podzol; at altitudes between 2,400 and 4,300 meters.
This plant should be grown at higher altitudes in the temperate zone with a cold and humid climate and with annual rainfall ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 mm.
Dormant trees are very cold tolerant, but new vegetation can be damaged by frosts.
From a pedological point of view it prefers a good moist but not waterlogged soil and grows well in heavy clay soils and slightly acidic conditions, up to a pH of about 5.
Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade.
It is a plant that is intolerant to air pollution.
It prefers to grow on a north-facing slope.
Trees should be planted in open fields when they are quite small, between 30 and 90 cm in height. Larger trees also grow poorly due to adaptation of the root system.
Propagation occurs by seed. Sowing should be done in late winter in a greenhouse or outdoors in early spring.
Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. It seems that stratification produces a more uniform germination, so it is advisable to sow the seed in an unheated seedbed as soon as it is ripe in the fall.
The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if well preserved.
The young seedlings should be placed in the open field in late spring or early summer, after the last foreseen frosts.

Customs and Traditions –
Abies forrestii is a plant that has been exploited since ancient times for its wood, as a material for various types of construction.
Due to the depletion of natural resources, the exploitation of this plant has ceased (at least officially) with a Chinese law on forest conservation that now prohibits logging in ancient forests in the western provinces. The plant is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2013).
This species is highly valued as an ornamental tree in botanical and private gardens and gardens in the United States and Europe.

Preparation Method –
Abies forrestii is a plant used both as an ornamental plant and for its timber.
There are no known uses for food or medicine.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– 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.
Photo source:

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.

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