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Abies forrestii

Abies forrestii - Forrest fir
  • Abies forrestii - Forrest fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies forrestii cone - Click to enlarge
  • Abies forrestii trees - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies forrestii   Coltman-Rogers  1919

Synonyms: Abies chengii Rushforth, Abies delavayi Diels, Abies forrestii Craib, Abies delavayi var. forrestii (Coltm.-Rog.) A.B.Jacks., Abies forrestii subsp. chengii (Rushforth) Silba, Abies forrestii var. chengii (Rushforth) Silba, Abies forrestii var. forrestii, Abies georgei Hand.-Mazz.

Infraspecific taxa: Abies forrestii var. ferreana (Bordères & Gaussen) Farjon & Silba  1990, Abies forrestii var. georgei (Orr) Farjon  1990, Abies forrestii var. smithii R.Vig. & Gaussen  1929

Common names: Forrest’s fir (English), Chuandian Lengshan (Chinese)



Tree to 30(-40) m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) m in diameter. Bark gray, reddening and becoming fissured with age. Branchlets hairless to very fuzzy, especially in the shallow grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 4-10 mm long, thickly coated with white to yellowish resin. Needles arranged to the sides in several rows and also rising above the twigs and angled forward to cover them, 1.5-3(-4) cm long, shiny dark green to bluish green above, the tip usually notched but sometimes bluntly to sharply pointed. Individual needles flat or a little plump in cross section and with a resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis, or sometimes away from it, a little way in from the margin, which may be straight or a little curled under, without stomates in the groove above and with 9-11 lines of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 25-45 mm long, purple. Seed cones elongate egg-shaped to cylindrical, (6-)7-11(-14) cm long, (3.5-)4-5.5(-6) cm across, dark purple when young, maturing purplish or blackish brown. Bract body about as long as the minutely fuzzy seed scales, with a projecting tip and sticking straight up between the scales, or sometimes curled back over them. Persistent cone axis broadly conical or swollen in the middle. Seed body 7-10 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons four to six.

Both varieties of this species, which are scattered across the whole geographic range, are named for George Forrest (1873 - 1932), a British plant collector who made seven expeditions to Yunnan between 1904 and 1932, dying on the last one.

Southwestern China, in southwestern Sichuan, northwestern Yunnan, and southeastern Xizang (Tibet). Forming pure stands near the alpine tree line or mixed with other conifers and progressively more hardwoods below this; (2,400-)2,900-4,000(-4,500) m. 


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

The species as a whole does not meet any of the criteria for a threatened category and is therefore assessed as Least Concern.

It mainly forms pure stands but with mixed conifers and broad-leafed trees especially at the forest margins. It is uncertain if the overall population is decreasing. There have been significant declines in some parts of its range, and affecting particular varieties to a greater extent than others.

This species (and its varieties) occurs in the high mountains of SW China at elevations between 2,400 m and 4,300 m a.s.l. (commonly 3,000-4,000 m), on grey-brown mountain podzols. The climate is cold and wet, annual precipitation ranges from 1,000 mm to 2,000 mm. The species forms forests in pure stands near the tree limit, or is mixed with Picea likiangensis, Larix potaninii, Tsuga dumosa and some broad-leaved trees, e.g. Betula albo-sinensis, Acer spp. and Sorbus spp. at lower elevations. An ericaceous lower shrub layer with Rhododendron spp. is often prominent.

Forrest's fir and and its several varieties occur at high altitudes, often up to the tree line and consequently only yield timber suitable for saw mill processing from larger trees at its lowest altitudinal range. Exploitation has (at least officially) ceased with Chinese forest conservation law now prohibiting logging in old growth forest in the western provinces. Having been collected on numerous occasions by the famous European plant hunters of the early twentieth century it was introduced to Europe and the United States where it is still quite common in arboreta and private large gardens. Most trees labelled Abies delavayi actually belong to this species (Abies delavayi has narrow leaves with revolute margins and dark violet-blue or purplish black seed cones).

The Government of China has recently imposed a logging ban in western China. This species is also known from several 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.

Product CodeABIPPWHF86
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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