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Abies fabri

Abies fabri - Faber fir, Faber’s fir
  • Abies fabri - Faber fir, Faber’s fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies fabri branches - Click to enlarge
  • Abies fabri leaves - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies fabri  (Masters) Craib 1920

Synonyms: Abies delavayi var. fabri (Mast.) D.R.Hunt, Abies fabri subsp. fabri, Keteleeria fabri Mast., Pinus fabri (Mast.) Voss

Infraspecific taxa: Abies fabri subsp. minensis (Bordères & Gaussen) Rushforth 1986

Common names: Faber fir, Faber’s fir (English), Leng Shan, Pao Shan (Chinese)



Tree to 40 m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) in diameter. Bark light gray, darkening, browning, flaking, and then becoming deeply ridged and furrowed with are. Branchlets yellowish brown, with a few dark hairs in the grooves or glabrous. Buds 4-8(-12) mm long, coated with reddish brown resin. Leaves 1.5-3 cm long, shiny dark green above, the tips blunt or notched. Individual needles flat in cross section but with the margins rolled under, often covering the stomatal bands, with a small resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis near the leaf margins, rolled leaf margins usually revealing part of the stomatal bands.  Pollen cones 20-35(-40) mm long, reddish purple. Seed cones oblong or barrel-shaped 6-11(-14) cm long, 3-4.5(-5.5) cm across, violet black with a thin waxy coating when young, maturing blackish brown. Seed scales flabellate-trapeziform, 1.4–2 × 1.6–2.4 cm at midcone; bracts cuneate-obovate or oblong-spathulate, broadly rounded at the apex, with only the cusps exserted and recurved or reflexed at maturity. Persistent cone axis swollen in the middle. Seed body 5-8 mm long, the wing a little shorter. Cotyledons four to six.

First collected in 1887 by the German missionary Ernst Faber (1839 - 1899) on Emei Shan in Sichuan, the fir which would bear his name was originally described, as a species of Keteleeria, in 1902. Its proper placement within Abies would only be formally published some years later, in 1920. 

Endemic to western Sichuan province, China; 2,000-3,600 m.       


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable

As both of Abies fabri's constituent subspecies have been assessed as Vulnerable as a result of past and continuing decline, the species as a whole is also assessed as Vulnerable based on an overall population reduction of at least 30% over the past 150 years (three generations) due to the impacts of over-exploitation and acid rain.

Population size is many thousands but in fragmented forests on tops or upper reaches of mountains. The type location of Abies fabri is on Mt. Emei (Emei Shan), a mountain SW of Chengdu in Sichuan. The species occurs there at elevations between 2,000 m and 3,100 m a.s.l. [K.D. Rushforth, pers. comm.; Craib (1919) has given a range between 3,000 m and 3,600 m a.s.l.] in a humid, cool climate (mean temp. in Jan. -4ºC, in July +12.6ºC, annual precipitation >2,000 mm). There are some nearly pure stands and scattered trees on Mt. Emei, but elsewhere in W Sichuan the species occurs mixed with Picea likiangensis, Tsuga chinensis and occasionally Larix potaninii.

The type locality is the Emei (Omei) Shan to the south west of Chengdu which is a protected site, as is the Erlang Shan, Wa Shan and Wawu Shan. Other forests are not in protected areas and have suffered logging over the past century. However, the populations near the Sichuan pendi, in particular, are vulnerable to acid rain from industries near Chengdu. Acid rain appears to be the most serious threat to the species, causing decline or death of trees observed on Emei shan between 1980 (KR observation) and 2009 (Qiaoping Xiang record from husband and students).

This species is not known to be a commercially important timber tree, presumably due to its restricted occurrence (protected from exploitation on the 'holy' mountain Emei Shan). Away from protected areas it may have been locally used for construction. It is uncommon in cultivation and mostly restricted to arboreta and botanic gardens.

The mountain Emei Shan is a principal ‘holy mountain’ in Chinese Buddhism, consequently this species enjoys protection from exploitation there. The Government of China has also recently imposed a logging ban in western China.


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.

Product CodeABI8QNYX62
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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