Abies forrestii / Forrest's fir

Abies forrestii, as described in 1919 by C. Coltman Rogers, in The Gardeners' Chronicle: a weekly illustrated journal of horticulture and allied subjects. series 3 number 65 is commonly known as Forrest's fir, as well as 川滇冷杉 (Chuān diān lěngshān) in the Chinese language. It was named after George Forrest (1873 - 1932), a Scottish botanist, who became one of the first explorers of China's then remote southwestern province of Yunnan, generally regarded as the most biodiverse province in the country.

In 2010 Aljos Farjon designated four varieties of Abies forrestii in his book, A Handbook of the World's Conifers:

Description. Forrest fir is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which will grow to a mature heights of 130 feet (40 m) tall with a trunk up to 60 inches (150 cm) in diameter, measured at breast height with a straight, round trunk and broadly conical crown.

  • At first, its bark is smooth, brown-gray, becoming dark brown and longitudinally fissured with age.
  • Twigs are purple- or orange-brown, graying with age, smooth or finely grooved, glabrous or pubescent.
  • Foliar buds are ovoid, measuring 0.16 to 0.4 inch (4 - 10 mm) long by 0.12 to 0.28 inch (3 - 7 mm) wide and resinous.
  • Leaves are spirally inserted, densely crowded on the shoot over several ranks, parting in the middle, 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2 - 3 cm) long by 0.1 inch (2-2.5 mm) thick. They are linear, flat, dark green or somewhat glaucous above, with a midrib and two whitish stomatal bands below; apex usually notched but sometimes obtuse, acute or acuminate.
  • Pollen cones appear on lateral branchlets and are 1.2 to 2 inches (3 - 4.5 cm) long (the largest reported in Abies), and are yellow with purple microsporophylls.
  • Seed cones also appear on the laterals. They are thick, cylindrical with obtuse or depressed apex, 2.5 to 4 inches (6 - 10 cm) long by 1.6 to 2 inches (4 - 5 cm) wide, and are purple-blue with blue bracts ripening dark brown, disintegrating to leave a very thick rachis.
  • Seeds are brown, obovate, 0.3 inch (8 mm) long with a 0.4 inch (10 mm) obovate light brown wing.

Distribution. This species is native to China and Tibet — northwestern Yunnan, southwestern Sichuan and southeastern Xizang (Tibet) provinces in high mountains of 7,700 to 14,000 feet (2,400 - 4,300 m) above sea level. The climate is cold and wet with annual precipitation of 40 to 80 inches (1,000 - 2,000 mm), producing gray-brown podzol soils. It is typically found in pure stands near tree limit.

Abies forrestii — a closeup of the top of a young tree with young seed cones.
Photo by Bill Barger
The young developing seed cone of Abies forrestii var. forrestii.
Photo by Randall C. Smith/Iseli Nursery
Abies forrestii — a closeup of foliage and seed cones.
Photo by Pineresin via GardenWeb
Abies forrestii — a closeup of foliage and mature seed cone.
Photo by Bill Barger