An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Abies nephrolepis

Abies nephrolepis

The Khinghan fir (Abies nephrolepis (Trautv. Ex Maxim.) Maxim.) 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. nephrolepis species.
Basionimo is the term:
– Abies sibirica var. nephrolepis Trautv., 1859.
The terms are synonymous:
– Abies koreana f. prostrata Kolesn.
– Abies sibirica Korsh.;
– Abies sibirica var. nephrolepis Trautv. ex Maxim.;
– Abies sibiriconephrolepis Taken. & J.J.Chien;
– Abies yoneyamae Soto;
– Pinus nephrolepis (Trautv.) Voss.;
– Abies nephrolepis f. chlorocarpa E.H.Wilson;
– Abies veitchii var. nephrolepis (Trautv. ex Maxim.) Mast.;
– Abies yoneyamae Soto;
– Pinus nephrolepis (Trautv. ex Maxim.) Voss.

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 nephrolepis comes from the Greek νεφρός nephrós rene and from λεπίς lepìs squama: with kidney scales.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Abies nephrolepis is a conifer endemic to north-eastern China, south-eastern Russia and the Korean Peninsula.
It is present in north-eastern China (Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi), in North Korea, South Korea and south-eastern Russia (Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Primorsky Krai, Southern Khabarovsk Krai ).
Its habitat is at altitudes between 500 and 700 m in Eastern Siberia (Primoryi, Amur and Khabarovsk) and at altitudes between 750 and 2000 m in north-east China (Shaanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Hebei), on well-drained soils. The reference climate is characterized by a short, cool and humid summer season and by long and cold winters, with mainly snowy annual rainfall.
This conifer is found in association with Pinus koraiensis, Picea jezoensis, Pinus pumila, Juniperus sabina, Picea obovata, Larix gmelinii, Pinus sibirica and Abies sibirica.

Description –
Abies nephrolepis is a fir that can reach 30-35 m in height.
The trunk is columnar, 120 cm in maximum circumference, and conical or oval crown tending to become irregular with age. The bark is gray and smooth when young, which over the years cracks and becomes darker.
The branches develop horizontally, ascending in the upper part, descending in the lower part.
The leaves are 1-3 cm long, needle-like, linear, flat, of a dull gray color, with two bands of stomata on the underside. Arranged in a spiral, they have serrated or sharp points.
Male strobili are yellow – green, hidden in the foliage.
The female cones are upright cylindrical, sometimes arranged in groups, purple tending to dull brown when ripe, 4.5-7.5 cm long and 2-3.5 cm broad, with kidney-shaped, smooth scales, 10-12 mm long. The seeds are black, obovate-cuneate, brown-reddish, 5 mm long, with short blackish wings.

Cultivation –
Abies nephrolepis is an evergreen conifer closely related to Abies sachalinensis, Abies koreana, Abies veitchii and Abies sibirica, which replace it respectively in the east, south, south-east and west. Its range borders that of A. sibirica with which it forms hybrids.
For its cultivation it should be taken into account that it is a plant of the mountainous regions of the temperate zone, with a cold climate, with short, cool and humid summers and long and cold winters. Most of the annual rainfall is snowy.
Plants are very tolerant of cold when dormant but can suffer from late frosts.
Pedologically it prefers good moist but well-drained soil and grows well in heavy clay soils and slightly acidic conditions up to a pH of around 5 although it tolerates more alkaline conditions than many other members of the genus.
Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade.
They are intolerant to air pollution.
It also prefers cultivation on north-facing slopes and in areas with cool and humid summers.
Propagation occurs by seed. Sowing should be done at the end of winter in a protected environment or outdoors in early spring. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification results in more uniform germination, so it is recommended 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 are then placed in single pots, grown in this way for the first winter, and transplanted in late spring or early summer, after the last foreseen frosts.
It is advisable to transplant when the saplings are quite small, between 30 and 90 cm in height. Larger trees root poorly and are more prone to uprooting and wind.

Customs and Traditions –
Abies nephrolepis is a conifer that is of great economic importance especially in China and the Korean Peninsula; its wood is used in construction and in the production of plywood. Instead, its use as an ornamental plant is rare, especially due to its susceptibility to late frosts.
The wood from this tree was used for cellulose production during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1920s.
Currently wood is used in joinery and for plywood and veneer.
Regarding its ecological status, it is classified as a species at least risk of extinction in the IUCN Red List as there is no evidence of a population decline.

Preparation Method –
Abies nephrolepis is a conifer that is of great interest in the use of wood but is of no importance both from a food and a medicinal point of view.

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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