Abies holophylla / Manchurian fir

Abies holophylla, as described in 1866 by Carl Maximowicz (1827–1891), in Bulletin de l'Academie Imperiale des Sciences de St-Petersbourg, sér.3, no.10 is commonly known as Manchurian fir, as well as 杉松 (zh) in the Chinese language. The species name translates into "whole leaf" from the Latin language, distinguishing this fir from its closest local relatives that have notched needles.

Description. Manchurian fir is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which grows to mature heights of 100 feet (30 m) tall with a 3 foot (1 m) diameter trunk, measured at breast height, and a narrow conical crown of horizontally spreading branches.

  • The bark is scaly and gray-brown with resin blisters.
  • The leaves are flattened, 0.8 to 1.6 inches (2 - 4 cm) long and 0.06 to 0.1 inch (1.5 - 2.5 mm) thick, spread at right angles from the shoot, and ending in a point. The needles spread on two sides, but not flat like in the case of silver fir (A. alba). Usually they more or less rise up forming a v-shaped empty compartment above the shoot. Unlike silver fir, the leaves of A. holophylla are sharp and prickly, with no indentation at the top. They are bright green above and whitish-green below with 2 whitish strips, each of which is formed by 7 to 10 wax-covered stomatal bands.
  • The shoots are glabrous, shiny yellow-gray when young and turning gray-brown when mature.
  • Pollen cones measure (10 -15 mm) long and are reddish yellow in color.
  • The seed cones measure 4.8 to 5.5 inches (12 - 14 cm) long by 1.6 to 2 inches (4 - 5 cm) broad, yellow-brown, and slightly tapering with a bluntly rounded apex.
  • The scale bracts are hidden under the cone scales.
  • The seeds, measuring 0.32 to 0.35 inch (8 - 9 mm) long with wedge-shaped wings 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) long, are released after the cones disintegrate at maturity in October.

Distribution. This species is native to Russia — southern Ussuriland; China — Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces; and North Korea; growing at elevations of up to 5,000 feet (0 - 1,500 m) above sea level.

Cold hardy to USDA Zone 5 (-10 to -20ºF / -23.3 to -28.9ºC, and is well suited to thrive in modified Mediterranean / maritime climates.

Abies holophylla — at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Connecticut; photo from 2020.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss
Abies holophylla — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss
New buds of Abies holophylla.
Photo by Clement Anthoine
Abies holophylla as a young tree, cultivated Newcastle, Northumberland, United Kingdom
Photo by MPF via Wikipedia
Manchurian fir (Abies holophylla) with young developing cones. Botanical Garden CZRB PAN - Powsin, Warsaw
Photo by Darekk2 via Wikipedia
Manchurian fir (Abies holophylla) with a young developing cone showing resin.
Photo by Darekk2 via Wikipedia

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