Abies homolepis / Nikko fir

Abies homolepis, as described in 1842 by Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796–1866) and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini (1790–1848), in Flora Japonica 2, is commonly known as Nikko fir; as well as ウラジロモミ, (urajiro-momi) in the Japanese language. The name homolepis means cones scales (Greek - lepis) of the same kind and size. Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold first introduced this conifer into cultivation in Holland 1859-60 and first planted in North America on or before 1870.

AbiesHomolepis.jpg

Description. Nikko fir is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which will grow to a mature height of 100 to 120 feet (30 – 40 m) tall with a trunk up to 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, measured at breast height.

  • Leaves are needle-like and flattened, measuring 0.6 to 1.4 inches (1.5 – 3.5 cm) long by 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2 – 3 mm) wide and 0.02 inch (0.5 mm) thick. They are glossy green above, with two white bands of stomata below, and rounded or slightly notched at the tip. The leaf arrangement is spiral on the shoot, with each leaf variably twisted at the base so they lie partially flattened to either side of and above the shoot, with few below the shoot.
  • Shoots are yellow-buff with a glabrous texture, and often conspicuously grooved.
  • Seed cones measure 2.4 to 4.8 inches (6 – 12 cm) long and 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3 – 4 cm) broad and are showy purple-Blue in color before maturity.
  • Winged seeds are released when the cones disintegrate at maturity about 6 to 7 months after pollination. As with another Japanese fir, Abies firma , this tree shares a distinctive broad-spreading silhouette.
Distribution. This species is native to Japan — in the mountains of central and southern Honshū and Shikoku. It grows at elevations of 2,200 to 7,000 feet (700 – 2,200 m) above sea level, often in temperate rain forest with high rainfall, cool, humid summers, and heavy winter snowfall. It is more common, and indeed in one of the commonest non-native firs planted in North America.

Hardy to USDA Zone 5 — cold hardiness limit between -20° and -10°F (-28.8° and -23.3°C).

Champion trees.

  • 130 by 16 feet (39 x 4.8 m) in Japan
  • 111 by 11 feet, 9 inches (33.3 x 3.52 m) at Taymouth Castle, Perthshire, Scotland (1983)
  • 88 by 5 feet (26.4 x 1.5 m) at Rochester, New York (ca. 1981)
  • 75 by 9 feet, 8 inches (22.5 x 2.9 m) Arnold Arboretum, MA (ca. 1981).

Attribution from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Abies homolepsis — photo copyright of Green Industry Images.
Photo by Ernie Wiegand
Abies homolepsis — a closeup of foliage and buds.
Photo by Botany.cz
Abies homolepis — detail of foliage and cones.
Photo by SA 3.0 via Wikipedia
Abies homolepis at Cox Arboretum, Canton, Georgia.
Photo by Tom Cox
Abies homolepis — an understory tree, Nikko Botanical Garden, Nikko City, Japan
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — Vandusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C.
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — foliage in early spring
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — foliage in the fall
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — closer view of needles
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — whitish underside of needles
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — needle attachments resemble small suction cups
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — upright cones developing in the late summer
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — upright mature cones
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — winged weeds
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — cone scales
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies homolepis — a fragmenting cone in late fall
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca

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