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Abies ziyuanensis

Abies ziyuanensis - Ziyuan fir


Scientific name: Abies ziyuanensis L.K.Fu & S.L.Mo  1980

Synonyms: Abies beshanzuensis var. ziyuanensis (L.K.Fu & S.L.Mo) L.K.Fu & Nan Li, Abies dayuanensis Q.X.Liu, Abies fabri subsp. dayuanensis (Q.X.Liu) Silba, Abies fabri subsp. ziyuanensis (L.K.Fu & S.L.Mo) Silba, Abies fabri var. ziyuanensis (L.K.Fu & S.L.Mo) Silba

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



Trees to 30 m tall, d.b.h. to 0.6-0.9 m; trunk monopodial, straight, columnar, terete; crown broad, conical or flat topped in old trees. Bark of young trees smooth, grey, in old trees shallowly ridged and grooved, broken into small plates on lower part of trunk. Branches of first order long, spreading horizontally, ascending towards the top of the tree; branches of second order spreading or ascending. Branchlets thick, stout, at first light yellowish brown, in the third year greyish brown; surface ridged and grooved between the leaves, glabrous or with short hairs in the grooves; leaf scars circular. Vegetative buds cylindric or ovoid-oblong, with acutish apex, covered with a thin layer of white resin; bud scales triangular, dorsally keeled, light yellowish brown. Leaves spirally arranged, spreading laterally in two overlapping sets, of unequal length, the longest near base of shoot, on coning shoots upper leaves assurgent, all leaves on vegetative shoots of young trees pectinate, widely spaced, 2-4.8 cm long, 3-3.5 mm wide, twisted or curved at base, linear, straight or curved, flattened, with margins (in sicco) slightly recurved, dark green above, two greenish white bands below; apex obtuse or slightly emarginate. Stomata absent on the adaxial (upper) surface, in two bands divided by a midrib below. Resin canals 2, marginal, small. Pollen cones lateral, in leaf axils, ca. 2 cm long, yellowish, with red microsporophylls. Seed cones lateral, with 0.5-1 cm long peduncles, oblong-cylindric or elliptical, with obtuse apex, 10-11 cm long, 4.2-4.5 cm wide, greenish or yellowish green when immature, maturing to dark greenish brown, becoming dark brown when ripe; cone rachis persistent, narrowly conical. Seed scales broad cuneate-flabellate, length × width at mid cone 2.3-2.5 × 3-3.3 cm; surface smooth, dark brown when ripe, sparingly puberulent; upper margin entire, rounded, not incurved, light brownish green; lateral margins finely toothed, auriculate near the pedicellate base. Bracts oblong-spathulate, near apex 9-10 mm wide, near base 3 mm, 2.1-2.3 cm long including the small cusp, included, or slightly exserted near base of cone and recurved; apical margin with fine teeth. Seeds cuneate-oblong, ca. 10 × 4 mm, purplish grey with dark resin; seed wings cuneate-dolabriform, with rounded or slightly truncate apex, 13-15 × 12-14 mm, light purplish grey, with dark spots, lustrous.

China: NE Guangxi (Rongshui Xian, Yuanbao Shan), SW Hunan (Ziyuan Xian, Xingni, Chenbu), SW Jiangxi (Jinggang Shan); 1,650-1,750 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered

The extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 km², it is known from four locations which are severely fragmented and there is continuing decline in the quality of the habitat due to a number of threats such as landslides and overgrazing by sheep and cattle. Furthermore, the entire population consist on fewer than 2,000 mature individuals and there are fewer than 250 individuals in the largest subpopulation. It is therefore listed as Endangered.

The entire population is estimated to number fewer than 2,000 plants. In Guangxi there are two subpopulations – 13 trees in one and only one in the other. Mostly mature individuals.

Abies ziyuanensis is a rare fir occurring on the highest mountains in Guangxi and on the border with Hunan, in a narrow belt between 1,650 m and 1,750 m asl. These mountains have a cool, very wet climate, with a mean annual temperature between 9.2°-12°C, and a winter period of four to five months (November-March) in which the mean temperature is between -3° to -5° C (min. -10°). The weather is usually cloudy, with much fog, the annual precipitation is 2,100-2,400 mm and snow lasts from December through March. Abies ziyuanensis occurs, together with other conifers, scattered in a mixed forest dominated by deciduous broad-leaved trees. Above 1,700 m on Yuanbao Shan it is replaced by Abies yuanbaoshanensis.

This species is only known from less than five localities, some in close proximity. As it occurs lower on the mountains, it was cut for timber in the past, but this has now mostly ceased. Present threats are landslides and overgrazing by sheep and cattle.

Some subpopulations occur in protected areas.


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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