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Abies chensiensis

Abies chensiensis - Shensi fir, Chinese River fir, Northern Giant fir, Shaanxi fir
  • Abies chensiensis - Shensi fir, Chinese River fir, Northern Giant fir, Shaanxi fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies chensiensis cones - Click to enlarge
  • Abies chensiensis tree - Click to enlarge


Product Information


Scientific name: Abies chensiensis  Van Tieghem  1892

Synonyms: Abies chensiensis subsp. chensiensis

Infraspecific taxa: Abies chensiensis subsp. salouenensis (Bordères & Gaussen) Rushforth  1984, Abies chensiensis subsp. yulongxueshanensis   Rushforth  1984                     

Common names: Shensi fir, Chinese River fir, Northern Giant fir, Shaanxi fir (English), Qin ling leng shan (Chinese)



Tree to 40(-50) m tall, with trunk to 2 m in diameter. Bark dark gray, splitting into long ridges with age. Branchlets hairless or with a few hairs at first in the grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 7-10 mm long, with a thin coating of resin. Needles arranged to the sides in several rows on lower branches, the upper rows of leaves shorter and angled forward, those of branches with seed cones curving upward above the twigs, 1.5-5(-7) cm long, shiny bright green above, the tip forked on young trees, becoming notched on lower branches, and finally pointed on branches with seed cones. Individual needles widest beyond the middle, plump in cross section with a resin canal on either side near the margins touching the lower epidermis on lower branches, well away from the epidermis on branches bearing seed cones, without stomates in the groove above and with 14-20 lines of stomates in each grayish green stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 5-10 mm long. Seed cones cylindrical or elongate egg-shaped, (7-)8-11(-14) cm long, 3-5 cm across, green when young, maturing reddish brown. Bracts three-quarters or less as long as the minutely woolly seed scales and hidden by them. Persistent cone axis narrowly conical. Seed body 8-10 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons four to six.

Central and southwestern China (Gansu, Hubei, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet), Yunnan). In mixed forests with other conifers and a few hardwoods on deep rich soils of mountain valleys and protected slopes; 2,100-3,000(-3,500) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

This species has an extent of occurrence of more than 20,000 km², and has a large population and although there are past and ongoing threats, it is listed here as Least Concern.

This species occurs in high mountain ranges of the SW Plateau of China between 2,100 and 3,500 m asl, on grey-brown mountain podzols, brown earth or lithosols. The climate is cold and moist, with annual precipitation between 1,000 and 2,000 mm. It is a rare species, usually mixed with Picea spp., Abies fargesii var. sutchuenensis, Tsuga chinensis, Larix potaninii at high elevations, and Betula spp. at lower elevations; also as a pure forest in Tsin-ling Shan.

Logging and deforestation have depleted this species to some extent in some parts of its range.

The Chinese Government has recently imposed a logging ban on old growth forest in western China.



Abies chensiensis ’Dax’    
Abies chensiensis ’Extreme dark green’    
Abies chensiensis ’Prostrata’
Abies chensiensis ’Prostrata Glauca’
Abies chensiensis ’Rochester’



  • 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 CodeABI5WJ6P94
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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