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Abies pinsapo

Abies pinsapo
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Product Information

Scientific name: Abies pinsapo   Boissier  1838

Synonims: Abies hispanica Chambray, Picea pinsapo (Boiss.) Loudon, Pinus pinsapo (Boiss.) Antoine, Pinus sapo d'Ounous

Common names: Spanish fir, Pinsapo, Abeto español (Spanish)



Tree to 30(-50) m tall, with trunk to 0.8(-1.5) m in diameter. Bark grayish brown, becoming deeply ridged and furrowed with age. Branchlets hairless, often shiny, grooved between the leaf bases. Buds 3.5-5 mm long, resinous or not. Needles arranged straight out all around the twigs or bent upward or denser toward the sides, (0.6-)1-2(-2.5) cm long, shiny dark green above, the tip sharp to blunt, rounded, or even slightly notched. Individual needles stiff, thick in cross section and with a resin canal on either side near the edge either just inside the lower epidermis or deep within the leaf tissue, with 1-14 continuous or discontinuous lines of stomates in a variably expressed central groove above, especially near the apex, and 6-7(-10) lines in each greenish white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 5-7(-15) mm long, reddish purple. Seed cones cylindrical, (9-)12-18(-25) cm long, 3.5-5(-6) cm across, greenish, yellowish, or reddish brown when young, maturing yellowish to purplish brown. Bracts no more than half as long as the seed scales and hidden by them. Persistent cone axis narrowly conical. Seed body 7-10 mm long, the wing up to 1.5 times as long. Cotyledons five to seven.

Mountains of the southwestern Mediterranean in southeastern Spain, northern Morocco, and northern Algeria. Forming pure stands or mixed with Atlas cedar (Cedrus libani subsp. atlantica) in rocky soils at higher elevations and with other conifers and evergreen hardwoods below; (1,000-)1,200-1,800(-2,100) m. In Morocco Abies pinsapo occurs in the Mediterranean humid bioclimatic zone. The average annual rainfall is 1,500 mm, increasing to 1,900 mm at an altitude of 1,700 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered

Abies pinsapo has a very limited distribution and a restricted habitat in small areas of Spain and Morocco. The total extent of occurrence (EOO) has been estimated to be 3,727 km², while the area of occupancy (AOO) is considerably less than 500 km². The number of locations is five and there is a decline in the quality of habitat in significant parts of its range. In Morocco, deforestation and forest degradation are regionally significant factors whereas in Spain, the decline is linked to fungal and insect pathogens combined with the effects of recent droughts and long term fire suppression. This species is therefore listed as Endangered. Between 1,800 and 2,000 m Abies occurs with Cedrus atlantica, Pinus nigra and Pinus pinaster. Above 2,000 m the mountain summits are typically dominated by shrubby xerophytic species. In southeastern Spain Abies pinsapo occurs on dolomitic soils in the Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves but on serpentine soils in the Sierra Bermeja. Forests occur at altitudes between 900 and 1,600 m asl. Above 1,100 m its forms dense, pure forests, but below this altitude trees occur in mixed communities with a range of oaks and pines. In Spain the major threat is fire. Other threats include pests and diseases which are more apparent during drought years when forests are more stressed.  During the last decade (1990s) a regional warming trend and a decrease in precipitation has been observed. These changes have been associated with increasing mortality of trees at elevations below 1,100m (Linares 2009). In Morocco, fire is also a major threat. Deforestation and habitat degradation associated with cannabis cultivation in the areas surrounding the fir stands are additional threats. The majority of stands are now within various protected areas in Spain and Morocco. In 2006 these protected areas were included in the first UNESCO Intercontinental Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve. In Spain Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo is also protected at a regional level under the Spanish law. At the European level, Abies pinsapo forests have been included in the Habitats Directive (92/43/CEE).



  • 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 CodeABI74VJ442

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