The Farges fir (Abies fargesii Franch., 1899) is an arboreal species belonging to the Pinaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
A. fargesii species.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Abies delavayi faxoniana (Rehder & E.H.Wilson) A.B.Jacks.;
– Abies faxoniana Rehder & E.H.Wilson;
– Abies kansouensis Bordères & Gaussen;
– Abies sutchuenensis (Franch.) Rehder & E.H.Wilson..
Within this species, the following varieties are recognized:
– Abies fargesii var. faxoniana (Rehder & E.H.Wilson) Tang S.Liu – endemic to northwestern Sichuan and southern Gansu, China;
– Abies fargesii var. sutchuensis Franch. – endemic to Sichuan and Gansu, in China.
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 fargesii epithet was attributed in honor of Paul Guillaume Farges, a French botanist and missionary who was the first to collect the species.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Farges fir is a conifer native and endemic to north-central China (Chongqing, Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
Its natural habitat is that of mountainous areas with a cold and humid subalpine climate, where it grows at altitudes between 1,500–3,900 meters, generally on the soils typical of conifers, such as podzols. Pure woods are common in this area, or in association with other conifers (Picea purpurea, Picea asperata, Picea neoveitchii, Picea brachytyla, Larix potaninii, Abies chensiensis, Abies recurvata, Tsuga chinensis, Taxus chinensis) at higher altitudes, or in association with broad-leaved trees at lower altitudes (Fagus engleriana, Davidia involucrata and species of the genus Betula and Populus. The shrub vegetation of the undergrowth is instead represented by associations with the genera Cotoneaster, Ribes, Spiraea, Rhododendron and Berberis.
Abies fargesii is a tree that can reach an average of 35-65 m.
The trunk is cylindrical, can reach 2 m in diameter, and is conical and the bark is gray and smooth in young trees but which becomes brown-gray and grooved with the passing of the years.
The main branches are short, massive, scattered; the secondary ones are often hanging downwards, red brown or purple, hairless or slightly pubescent.
The leaves are needle-like, glossy green above, pale green below, up to 3 cm long, with marginal or bifid apex, spirally arranged. The buds are ovoid or obtuse, 6-8 mm long, resinous, red-purple in color. The pearls are triangular-ovate, yellowish-brown.
Male strobili are 13 mm long, yellow with red microsporophylls.
The female cones are purplish-bluish when immature, purple or brown-red when ripe, they are cylindrical or ovoid, with obtuse or umbelicated apex, 5-9 cm long and up to 4 cm broad, with short peduncle; the scales are cuneata-flabellate, 12 mm long, 20 mm wide, smooth.
The seeds are black, about 5-6 mm long, oblong, with black wings of 1 cm, cuneate.
Abies fargesii is an evergreen tree that is used in its natural state for its timber, which is traded.
Being the most widespread of the fir trees in the high mountains of western China, this species has been the subject of extensive exploitation for its timber. The overall population is thought to be decreasing due to the recent decline due to logging and the continuing effects of acid rain in parts of its range.
It is a plant that can be grown in temperate, cold and humid areas, where in nature it grows between is found at altitudes between 1,500–3,900 meters above sea level.
Dormant trees tolerate the cold very well but can be subject to spring frosts in the phase of new vegetation.
They prefer moist but not waterlogged soils they grow well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when they are young.
Plant intolerant to atmospheric pollution which, from the pedological point of view, prefers slightly acid soils up to a pH of about 5. It also prefers to grow on north-facing slopes.
For the planting of this species it is advisable to place the young seedlings in the shelter of mother trees and in full shade to protect them from frosts.
Trees should be planted in their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90 cm in height. It is also a species that tends to hybridize with other species of the same genus.
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. Stratification is said to produce more uniform germination, so it is advisable to sow the seed in 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 are then placed in individual pots where they will have to grow for the first winter and be transplanted in the open field in late spring or early summer, after the last foreseen frosts.
Alternatively, if you have enough seed, you can sow in a seedbed outdoors.
Customs and Traditions –
Abies fargesii, called 巴山 冷杉 in Chinese, is a tree used in construction and for the pulp in papermaking.
Being the most common of the fir trees originating in western China, it has always been particularly exploited for its wood; the latter is used in construction and carpentry and in the paper industry. It is also commonly cultivated in European and American botanical gardens and gardens, as an ornamental species.
The wood, if of high quality, is used in construction (mainly interior floors, frames and joinery), otherwise it is used, as mentioned, in the paper pulp industry.
This species, from an ecological point of view, with a very large range (about 45,000 km²), and a very common presence, is not yet classified as endangered species in the IUCN Red List. However, due to intensive exploitation, the latter has now been regulated.
Preparation Method –
Abies fargesii is a very common fir in China and has been used for a long time both for wood and in the paper industry.
On the other hand, no food or medicinal uses are known.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
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– 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.