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Abies yuanbaoshanensis

Abies yuanbaoshanensis - Yuanbaoshan fir


Scientific name: Abies yuanbaoshanensis  Y.J.Lu & L.K.Fu  1980

Synonyms: Abies fabri subsp. yuanbaoshanensis (Y.J.Lu & L.K.Fu) Silba

Common names: Yuanbaoshan fir (English), Yuanbaoshan lengshan (Chinese)



Trees to 25 m tall, d.b.h. to 0.6 m (or more); trunk monopodial, straight, columnar, terete; crown probably like Abies forrestii (not described). Bark smooth at first, becoming ridged and grooved, divided into small plates in old trees. Branches of first order long, spreading horizontally; branches of second order spreading and ascending. Branchlets slender, firm, yellowish brown or light brown, becoming light or dark brown, glabrous; leaf scars circular. Vegetative buds ovoid-conical, very resinous; bud scales reddish brown, persisting several years. Leaves spirally arranged, densely set, subradially spreading above shoot, the lower leaves spreading laterally, the upper leaves shortest, on coning shoots assurgent or erect, 1-2.7 cm long (leaves of young trees longer: 3-3.8 cm, usually more pectinately arranged in two rows of equal length), longest in the middle portion of shoot, 1.8-2.5 mm wide, twisted or curved at base, linear or ligulate-linear, flattened; margins (in sicco) revolute, with a median groove above, dark green above, two very white bands below; apex obtuse to slightly emarginate. Stomata absent above, in two broad bands separated by a midrib below. Resin canals 2, marginal, small. Pollen cones solitary, axillary, on short branches, oblong cylindrical, 1-1.5 cm long, yellow. Seed cones lateral, erect, short pedunculate to almost sessile, broad ovoid-cylindric, short, with slightly narrowed, obtuse apex, 8-9 cm long, 4.5-5 cm wide, green or yellowish green when immature, maturing to light yellowish brown, becoming pale (yellowish) brown when ripe; cone rachis persistent, fusiform or conical, brown. Seed scales cuneate-flabellate, length × width at mid cone 2 × 2.2 cm; surface smooth, with thickened central portion of apical part, exposed part densely greyish white puberulent; upper margin entire, rounded to almost truncate, slightly incurved; lower margins auriculate; base short pedicellate. Bracts large, broad oblong, widest in the middle (9 mm), with rounded, erose-denticulate upper margins and a small cusp, 2.5-2.8 cm long, of the same colour as the seed scales, apical part 6-7 mm wide, reflexed, distinctly exserted. Seeds cuneate-oblong or obovate-oblong, 10 × 4 mm, resinous, dark red brown; seed wings cuneate-dolabriform, with a truncate apex, slightly longer than the seeds (9-11 × 8-10 mm), shining light brown.

A relatively recently discovered species confined to Yuanbao Shan in Rongshui Xian county (N Guangxi, China) which is outside the general range of fir species. The whole population is within an area of 4 ha; 1,700–2,050 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered

Abies yunabaoshanensis is assessed as Critically Endangered due to its very restricted distribution and a continuing decline in mature individuals. There is a need for ex-situ conservation and for research on the measures required to prevent it from going extinct.

The population is estimated to number 589 plants. The population structure is skewed to old (senescent) individuals and young ones, with very few middle-aged plants. Genetic work indicates that this species will face severe genetic issues in the near future.

The highest mountains in Guangxi, like Yuanbao Shan, have a very cool, wet climate, with annual precipitation exceeding 2,000 mm. The summers are cool and cloudy, the winters last four to five months and bring abundant snow from December through March. This species occurs in mixed deciduous-coniferous forest with other conifers (e.g., Tsuga chinensis) and broad-leaved trees dominated by members of the Fagaceae; the Abies trees are very scattered.

This species has an extremely limited distribution, distant from other species, and is only known from one small area in Guangxi Province. The population was impacted by a severe winter in 2008 and a number of trees died. The population occurs within a protected area. Further research is required into this species’ threats and what measures should be taken to rescue this species from going extinct. There is a need for ex-situ conservation.


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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