Abies veitchii / Veitch's fir

John Gould Veitch
John Gould Veitch

Abies veitchii, as described in 1861 by John Lindley (1799–1865), in The Gardeners' Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette, 1861 edition, is commonly known as Veitch's silver fir, Shikoku fir, or as シラビソ or シラベ (shirabiso or shirabe) in the Japanese language. Lindley named it after John Gould Veitch (1839–1870), whose great merit as a very energetic explorer of the vegetation of Japan it gracefully records.

Ethnobotany. The wood is sturdy and elastic, and is used in construction, boxes, utensils, and spindles. Veitch's fir is a popular ornamental tree and is occasionally grown for Christmas trees.

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Description. Veitch's fir is a evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows at a fast rate to mature heights of 80 to 100 feet (25 – 30 m); with a narrowly conic crown and horizontal branching.

  • Bark is smooth, light grey in color, and has resin blisters characteristic of many firs.
  • Shoots are pubescent, with short brown hairs.
  • Leaves are needle-like and flattened, measuring 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1 – 3 cm) long and 0.08 inch (2 mm) broad. They are glossy dark green above with two conspicuous bluish white stomatal bands underneath, and notched at the tips. The foliage is dense and points forward along the shoot, with the inner leaves being shorter and more erect than the lower leaves.
  • Seed cones are purple-brown in color, with a cylindrical shape, measuring 1.6 to 2.8 inches (4 – 7 cm) long, tapering slightly. The cones are upright and have slightly exserted and reflexed yellow-green bracts.
Distribution. This species is native to Japan — Honshu island, growing at elevations of 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,600 - 1,900 m) above sea level.

Hardy to USDA Zone 3 — cold hardiness limit between -40° and -30°F (-39.9° and -34.4°C).

Attribution from: Mirko Vidakovic; Conifers: morphology and variation, translated from Croatian by Maja Soljan; ©1991, Graficki Zavod Hrvatske, Croatia.

Abies veitchii cone in the fall
Photo by Phil Syphrit/Cornell Plantations
Abies veitchii branch with several female. upright cones
Photo by Phil Syphrit/Cornell Plantations
Abies veitchii - branch and foliage detail, photo taken November 26, 2014 at the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, Massachusetts
Photo by John Waskiewicz
Abies veitchii - detail showing resinous buds and glossy, dark green needles with notched tips, photo taken November 26, 2014 at the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, Massachusetts
Photo by John Waskiewicz
Abies veitchii - foliage underside exhibiting two bluish-white stomatal bands, photo taken November 26, 2014 at the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, Massachusetts
Photo by John Waskiewicz
Abies vetchii — at Vandusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — foliage and buds
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — foliage and buds
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — male pollen cones in spring
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — male pollen cones in spring
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — upright fragmenting cones in the fall
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — upright fragmenting cones
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca
Abies vetchii — Mt. Fuji fir cones close to fragmenting, at Vandusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Photo by Blake Willson, courtesy of TreeLib.ca

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