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Abies mariesii

Abies mariesii - Maries fir
  • Abies mariesii - Maries fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies mariesii cones - Click to enlarge
  • Abies mariesii trees - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies mariesii   M.T. Masters 1879

Synonyms: Pinus mariesii (Mast.) Voss

Common names: Maries fir, Toddomatsu fir (English), O-shirabiso (Japanese)



 Tree to 25(-30) m tall, or just 5 m or less at the alpine timberline, with trunk to 1 m in diameter. Bark purple-tinged very pale gray, finally breaking up somewhat and darkening with age on the lower trunk. Branchlets densely covered with fine reddish brown hairs, deeply but narrowly grooved. Buds 2-3 mm long, resinous and hairy. Needles arranged to the sides and angling forward, but shorter and even more densely curved upward and covering the twigs, (0.6-)1.5-2.5 cm long, dark green above, the tips rounded or notched. Individual needles flat in cross section, with a resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis near the margin of the leaf, without stomates above and with (10-)12(-14) lines of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 15-20 mm long, purplish brown. Seed cones egg-shaped, (4-)6-9 cm long, (1.5-)2-4(4.5) cm across, very dark purple when young, maturing dark purplish brown. Bracts up to about half as long as the internally densely hairy seed scales and hidden by them. Persistent cone axis spindle-shaped. Seed body (4-)6-8 mm long, the wing up to 1.5 times as long. Cotyledons four to six.

Charles Maries (1851 - 1902) brought this species to the attention of European botanists after finding it on Mount Hakkōda in 1878, while collecting for the Veitch nursery firm, and it was described from his collections there.

Mountains of central and northern Honshu (Japan). Forming pure stands near timberline or mixed with several other conifers and a few hardwoods on moist soils in the subalpine zone; (750-)1,000-2,600(-2,800) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Despite Abies mariesii being restricted to high elevations, its distribution and regeneration appear to guarantee the survival of this species, so that it is therefore not considered threatened under the Red List Criteria. There is no evidence of a current threat to the species, hence it is assessed as Least Concern.

The species forms pure stands on mountain slopes. The population is thought to be stable. A species of the high mountain sides and ridges in the upper montane and subalpine zones, occurring commonly between 1,000 m and 2,800 m a.s.l. (as low as 750 m in N Honshu). The soils are mostly derived from volcanic rock, usually podzolic and slightly acid or neutral, well drained, and moderately moist (mesic). The climate is cold, with abundant winter snow and cool, moist summers, the annual precipitation exceeds 2,000 mm in the mountains nearest to the Sea of Japan. Frequent typhoons are a destructive force reducing the maximum age of trees. Abies mariesii forms sometimes pure forests near the tree line, but is more common in mixed (coniferous) forests with e.g. Abies veitchii, Tsuga diversifolia, Picea jezoensis var. hondoensis and/or undergrowth of Pinus pumila and Juniperus communis var. nipponica, the latter two especially abundant on ridgetops. Common broad-leaved trees are Betula ermanii, Sorbus commixta, and Acer spp. In many previously disturbed areas with deep, fine textured soil, e.g. volcanic ash, there is a dense cover of small bamboo (Sasa paniculata and Sasa nipponica), which excludes most other plants.

This species of fir has little value as a timber tree because it grows at high altitude and mostly in inaccessible localities. In horticulture it is rather uncommon despite its attractive dark green foliage leaves and contrasting white stomatal bands underneath. It is not at all tolerant of droughts and performs best in cool, wet conditions but on light, well-drained soils. It is mostly restricted to collections in botanic gardens and arboreta.

No specific conservation actions have been targeted at this species. It is known from several protected areas.



Abies mariesii ’Dr. Fricks’



  • 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 CodeABI6JAGX46
Height15 - 20 cm

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