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Abies delavayi

Abies delavayi - Delavay's fir, Delavay fir
  • Abies delavayi - Delavay's fir, Delavay fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies delavayi branches - Click to enlarge
  • Abies delavayi leaves - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies delavayi  Franchet   1899

Synonyms: Abies delavayi subsp. delavayi, Abies delavayi var. delavayi

Infraspecific taxa: Abies delavayi subsp. fansipanensis   (Q.P.Xiang, L.K.Fu & Nan Li) Rushforth  1999, Abies delavayi var. motuoensis   W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu  1975, Abies delavayi var. nukiangensis  (W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu) Farjon & Silba  1990     

Common names: Delavay fir, Delavay's fir (English), Yuan bian zhong, Cang shan leng shan (Chinese)



Tree to 40 m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) in diameter. Bark light gray, darkening, browning, flaking, and then becoming deeply ridged and furrowed with are. Branchlets hairless or transiently minutely hairy in the shallow grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 4-8(-12) mm long, coated with reddish brown resin. Needles arranged all around the twigs or, more commonly, concentrated to their sides and angled forward above them, (1-)1.5-3(-4.5) cm long, shiny dark green above, the tips blunt or notched. Individual needles flat in cross section but with the margins rolled under, often covering the stomatal bands, with a small resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis near the leaf margins, without stomates above and with 9-11 lines of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 20-35(-40) mm long, reddish purple. Seed cones oblong or barrel-shaped 6-11(-14) cm long, 3-4.5(-5.5) cm across, violet black with a thin waxy coating when young, maturing blackish brown. Bracts about as long as the slightly hairy seed scales and with an added bristle tip usually sticking up, out, or down a little between the scales, sometimes hidden by them at the top of the seed cone or throughout. Persistent cone axis swollen in the middle. Seed body 5-8 mm long, the wing a little shorter. Cotyledons four to six.

The species name honors Père Jean-Marie Delavay (1834 - 1895), a French missionary and botanist who collected the type specimen and sent seed back to Europe during his stay in Yunnan, China, from 1884 until his death there on New Year’s Eve in 1895.

Southwestern China, western Sichuan, southeastern Xizang (Tibet), northwestern Yunnan, and adjacent Myanmar. Forming pure stands in the subalpine belt or mixed with other conifers and hardwoods there and in the montane forest below; (1,500-)2,400-4,000(-4,300) m.                                           


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Although there has been some reduction in some subpopulations, this species is still very widespread. it is therefore listed as Least Concern.

This is a species of high elevations in the great mountain ranges of SW China, occurring between 2,400 m and 4,300 m asl, but usually between 3,000 m and 4,000 m, commonly on north-facing slopes. The soil is a grey brown mountain podzol. The climate is extremely wet, with cool summers and cold, snowy winters (annual precipitation ranges from 1,000 mm to 3,000 mm and more). It grows mixed with other conifers, such as Picea likiangensis, Picea brachytyla, or in pure stands towards the tree limit. At lower elevations it is sometimes mixed with Tsuga chinensis, Tsuga dumosa, Juniperus formosana and broad-leaved trees, e.g. Betula albosinensis, Betula platyphylla var. szechuanica, and Quercus semecarpifolia. Abies delavayi, however, is less common with these trees than Abies forrestii.

Logging has affected many areas although with the introduction of a logging ban in 1998 this problem has reduced. Timber is used for general construction.

The Government of China has recently imposed a ban on logging in western China.



Abies delavayi ‘Buchanan’ 
Abies delavayi ‘Green Giant’    
Abies delavayi ‘Major Neishe’  
Abies delavayi ‘Midnight Blue’
Abies delavayi ‘Nana’
Abies delavayi ‘Numogne Hai’
Abies delavayi ‘Tauperle’



  • 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 CodeABIT97ED10
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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