Picea asperata var. ponderosa / big-cone dragon spruce

Picea asperata var. ponderosa, as described in 1916 by Alfred Rehder (1863–1949) and Ernest Henry Wilson (1876 – 1930), in Plantae Wilsonianae, an enumeration of the woody plants collected in Western China for the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University during the years 1907, 1908 and 1910 by E.H. Wilson and edited by Charles Sprague Sargent. This variety is commonly known as Big-cone dragon spruce. Wilson had collected the type of this variety on the western side of Banlang Shan, it is also known to be found in the district of Xiaojin, above Siguniangshanzhen (formerly Rilongzhen).

Notable traits that have a bearing on differentiating it from other specific varieties of dragon spruce include:

  • Seed cones are much larger than the type, measuring 4.8 to 6 inches (12 - 15 cm) long and 1.6 to 1.8 inches (4 - 4.5 cm) wide.
  • Seed scales are rigid, with a leathery texture, and slightly elongated, curved, usually notched apices.

Distribution. This variety is native to China — western Sichuan province, in the Guan Xian, Banlang Shan, growing in forests at elevations of 1,000 to 4,500 feet (300 - 3,000 m) above sea level.

Attribution from: Wu Zheng-yi and Peter H. Raven (editors); Flora of China, Volume 4; ©1999, Beijing, China.

Picea asperata var. ponderosa — a closeup of this conifer's distinctive seed cone.
Photo by Jean Hoch
Picea asperata var. ponderosa — a mature specimen at Boston's Arnold Arboretum, MA.
Photo by Danny at Amateur Ecologist
2014

Comments

Jean Hoch

In the protologue, the type locality indicated is: "west of Kuan Hsien, Pan-lan-shan, alt. 3000-3300 m. Wilson would only indicates the direction. Indeed, Mount Banlang Shan is not in the jurisdiction of Dujiangyan (formerly Guang Xian) but straddles the districts of Wenchuan and Xiaojin. According to my research, Wilson had collected the type of this variety on the western side of Banlang Shan, it is also where I found it in the district of Xiaojin, above Siguniangshanzhen (formerly Rilongzhen).

David Olszyk

Jean, thank you so much for this additional information. Every bit of extra information helps to complete the historical records for these conifers forever.