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Abies bornmuelleriana

Abies bornmuelleriana
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Scientific name: Abies bornmuelleriana  Mattf.  1925

Synonyms: Abies x bornmuelleriana, Abies nordmanniana subsp. bornmuelleriana (Mattf.) Coode & Cullen, Abies nordmanniana var. bornmuelleriana (Mattf.) Silba

Common names: Bithynian fir, Bornmuller fir, Bornmuller's fir, Turkish fir



Trees to 20(-40) m tall, trunk 1 m, monopodial, straight, columnar, crown broad conical or pyramidal.  Bark of young trees smooth, grey, in old trees rough, shallowly fissured, blackish grey-brown. Abies bornmuelleriana has mostly glabrous branchlets, resinous buds, longer needles with bright silvery lower surfaces. Leaves spirally arranged, pectinate below, the upper leaves pressed forward above shoot, on coning shoots assurgent, 2-3.5 cm long, 1.5-2.5 mm wide, strongly twisted at base, linear, flattened, sometimes with slightly revolute margins, grooved above, lustrous dark green above, two whitish green bands below, apex emarginate, obtuse on coning shoots. Stomata in two bands separated by a midrib below. Resin canals 2, marginal, small. Pollen cones lateral, crowded, pendulous, 1-2 cm long, yellowish. Seed cones lateral, erect, often crowded, short pedunculate, ovoid-cylindrical, with pointed and often papilliform apex, 9-16(-20) cm long, 4-5.5(-6) cm wide, yellowgreen when immature, ripening to light brown (reddish brown inside). Seed scales flabellate or cyathiform, length × width at mid-cone 1.8-2.5 × 2.7-4 cm, surface smooth, slightly striated, pubescent on exposed parts. Cusps on bracts wide, without a distinct midrib. Seeds cuneate, 10-12 × 7-8 mm, fawn brown, shiny. Seed wings cuneate, with rounded edge, 15-18 × 15 mm, light purplish brown or rose, turning fawn brown.

Most likely a natural hybrid between Caucasian fir (Abies nordmanniana) and Grecian fir (Abies cephalonica). It has been treated as a species in its own right or as a variety or subspecies of both Abies cephalonica and Abies nordmanniana. Its morphological intermediacy and apparent hybrid vigor in growth rate, coupled with extensive pollen sterility, argue in favor of a hybrid origin. In Turkey this taxon is treated as a distinct species.   

The similarities of Abies equi-trojani to Abies bornmuelleriana and Abies nordmanniana in the needle characteristics and close relationships between these three taxa detected in investigation seem to support their infraspecific systematic position proposed by Cullen and Coode (1965). The analysis of fir speciation within the Mediterranean indicated the historical development of the Balkan and North Anatolian contemporary species from one Tertiary ancestor (Liepelt et al., 2009, 2010). Its hypothetically broad geographic range was divided since the Miocene into the Balkan and Middle Asiatic regions, then isolated during Miocene and Pliocene geological and climatic events, which caused the formation of the current taxa (Linares, 2011). Possible contact and gene exchange during the Pliocene and Pleistocene climate oscillations were likely responsible for the observed morphological and genetic differentiation of the Balkan and Anatolian taxa (Scaltsoyiannes et al., 1999; Kaya et al., 2008; Liepelt et al., 2010; Linares, 2011), as firs retain a high level of ability to cross-pollinate among species (Kormutak et al., 2013; Bella et al., 2015; Krajmerová et al., 2016). These historical events were the reason for the muted morphological differences between Abies equi-trojani, Abies bornmuelleriana, and Abies nordmanniana, independently of the systematic status assigned to each of them.

It is named for Joseph Friedrich Nicolaus Bornmüller (1862 - 1948), a German botanist.

Turkey - Northwest Anatolia, from Ulu Dag (Olympus) in the west to Kizil Irmak River valley in the east 200-1,900 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered.

However, the habitat of Abies bornmuelleriana is in decline due a number of negative effects, it has been assessed as being of Endangered.

High montane zones of mountains on deep fertile soils derived from igneous and granite rocks. It forms both pure stands and mixed with Picea orientalis, Fagus sylvatica, Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra

Even though the wood is highly prized, logging has not had a significant detrimental impact on the population. However, the habitat of Abies bornmuelleriana is in decline due to a number of negative effects including acid rain, fire, local timber extraction and habitat degradation associated.

This species is known from several protected areas.



Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Archer’
Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Barney’
Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Compacta’
Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Franke’
Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Fritsche’
Abies bornmuelleriana ‘Zwergform Gelb’



  • 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 CodeABIMU4R25
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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