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Abies bracteata

Abies bracteata
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Product Information

Scientific name: Abies bracteata D. Don ex Poiteau  1845

Synonyms: Abies venusta (Douglas) K.Koch, Abies venusta Sarg., Picea bracteata (D.Don) Loudon, Pinus bracteata D.Don, Pinus venusta Douglas  

Common names: Bristlecone fir, Santa Lucia fir



Tree to 35(-55) m tall, with trunk to 1.3 m in diameter. Bark grayish brown, breaking up slightly with age. Branchlets hairless, thinly waxy at first, not or weakly grooved. Buds (12-)15-20(-25) mm long, sharp-pointed, not resinous. Needles arranged all around the twigs or mostly to the sides, but rather densely so, (2.5-)3-6 cm long, very stiff, dark green above, the tips sharply pointed. Pollen cones about 3 cm long, yellowish brown. Seed cones egg-shaped, (4.5-)7-10 cm long, 4-6 cm across, reddish green when young, maturing pale purplish brown. Seed body 6-10 mm long, the wing about as long.

Santa Lucia Mountains of coastal Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County, California. Scattered among evergreen hardwoods on steep slopes above the redwood forest; (200-)600-900(-1,600) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened

Abies bracteata has been assessed as Near Threatened on the basis of its restricted distribution, a decline in the quality of the habitat in areas surrounding existing stands due to the effects of Sudden Oak Death, poor regeneration and poor re-establishment potential. It is also potentially susceptible to indirect effects of climate change. Throughout its range Abies bracteata is restricted to steep north- and east-facing upland slopes and ridges, in canyon bottoms, and on raised stream benches and terraces.These areas are not prone to hot fires. It occurs either in mixed evergreen forests, canyon live oak communities or occassionally with Sequoia sempervirens, Pinus lambertiana and  Pinus ponderosa. Santa Lucia Fir is no longer used for timber but it is an attractive and unusual species much valued in collections for botanic gardens and arboreta. It was successfully introduced and raised by the famous tree nursery of Veitch & Son near Chelsea in England in 1853, but it only became more common in horticulture later in the twentieth century when renewed seed collecting was undertaken. Trees in cultivation often grow much faster and taller than in their natural habitats in the Santa Lucia Mountains. The majority of localities are within the Ventana Wilderness area of Los Padres National Forest protected areas.



  • 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 CodeABIBX0F346
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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