Conifers Garden - Online Conifer Nursery


Abies beshanzuensis

Abies beshanzuensis - Baishan fir, Baishanzu fir


Scientific name: Abies beshanzuensis  M.H. Wu  1976

Synonyms: Abies beshanzuensis var. beshanzuensis, Abies fabri subsp. beshanzuensis (M.H.Wu) Silba, Abies fabri var. beshanzuensis (M.H.Wu) Silba

Common names: Baishan fir, Baishanzu fir (English), Baishanzu lengshan (Chinese)



It is one of the most endangered trees in the world. Only three currently exist in the wild, all of which are located in the Baishanzu Mountain Nature Reserve.

Tree to 20(-30) m tall, with trunk to 0.6(-1) m in diameter. Bark pale gray, breaking up somewhat and becoming dark reddish brown with age. Branchlets hairless or minutely hairy, especially in the deep grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 4-7 mm long, with a thin film of white resin. Needles arranged to the sides of the twigs in several rows on lower branches, also or exclusively turned upward on upper branches with seed cones, (1-)1.5-3.5(-5) cm long, glossy dark green above, the tip usually notched. Individual needles flat in cross section and with a resin canal on either side usually touching the lower epidermis near the margin, without stomates above and with 10-12 rows of stomates in each silvery to greenish white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones (10-)15-25 mm long, red. Seed cones elongate egg-shaped to cylindrical, (6-)8-12 cm long, (3-)3.5-4.5(-5) cm across, yellowish to dark green when young, maturing light to dark brown. Bracts about as long as the scarcely hairy seed scales and bent back slightly oven them, sometimes hidden. Persistent cone axis narrowly conical. Seed body (6-)8-12 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons four to six. Abies beshanzuensis is only known from a few populations on widely separated mountains scattered across southern China, one of which, Baishanzu, gave its name to the species. These populations differ a little from to the next and were originally described as separate species.

Endemic to China's Zhejiang Province where it occurs on Mt. Baishanzu northeast of Qingyuan in the Tung-Kung Range; 1,500-1,700 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered

No new information has been received since the last assessment of the species in 2010 (published in 2013), so Abies beshanzuensis is still assessed as Critically Endangered under criteria B2ab(v), C2a(i,ii) and D due to its extremely small population size (only three plants left in the wild) and continuing decline.

Known from only a few mature individuals in the wild, without natural regeneration, in degraded angiosperm woodland. According to an account by Dudley (1988), in 1987 only three individual trees were left (after two plants had been removed to Beijing Botanic Gardens and subsequently died there and to Hang Zhou Botanic Garden which also died) of a population at discovery in 1963 of only seven individuals, of which four were flowering and coning at that time. The population had been greatly reduced in size following flooding and subsequent landslides in the area.

On a medium high mountain in the maritime southeastern part of China, with warm summers and cool, moist winters (annual precipitation ca 1,250 mm), where it is found between 1,500–1,700 m asl. It grows there with other conifers, such as Tsuga chinensis, Cephalotaxus sinensis and Taxus chinensis, and broad-leaved trees, e.g. Castanopsis spp., Fagus lucida, Quercus spp., Acer spp., Magnolia cylindrica and Lithocarpus hancei. The angiosperm trees dominate the present site of Abies beshanzuensis.

Deforestation (for agriculture) has in the past reduced the population to a few trees. Regeneration of the forest mainly causes angiosperms and bamboos to dominate at present on the site where Abies occurred before. Climate change is a potential future threat as this species has such a small population size and restricted distribution.

This species was taken into cultivation from cuttings at a forestry station in Qingyuan, south Zhejiang, China, as a graft on Abies firma rootstock. The remaining plants in the wild are under protection in Baishanzu Nature Reserve which was established in 1985. There is an ex situ programme under-way and they are now reintroducing seedlings grown in cultivation back into the original habitat.


Cultivars: -



  • Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
  • Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland

Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

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