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Abies kawakamii

Abies kawakamii - Taiwan fir, Kawakami fir, Formosan fir
  • Abies kawakamii - Taiwan fir, Kawakami fir, Formosan fir  - Click to enlarge
  • Abies kawakamii cones - Click to enlarge
  • Abies kawakamii trees - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies kawakamii  (Hayata) T. Itô  1909

Synonyms: Abies mariesii var. kawakamii Hayata

Common names: Taiwan fir, Kawakami fir, Formosan fir (English), Taiwan lengshan (Chinese)



Tree to 20(-35) m tall, with trunk to 1 m in diameter. Bark pale gray, soon becoming scaly and later darkening and becoming furrowed. Branchlets densely hairy, grooved between the leaf bases. Buds 4-5 mm long, very resinous. Needles arranged densely to the sides and above the twigs, where shorter, (0.5-)1-2(-3) cm long, glossy bright deep green above, the tips rounded or slightly notched. Individual needles flat or slightly plump in cross section and with a resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis near the edges, with a few lines of stomates above and with 8-12 lines of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 9-13 mm long, greenish yellow. Seed cones oblong, 5-7.5(-9) cm long, 3-4.5 cm across, reddish purple when young, maturing purplish brown. Bracts half to two-thirds as long as the fuzzy seed scales and hidden by them. Persistent cone axis conical or swelling slightly below the middle. Seed body (6-)7-9 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons four or five.

The specific epithet honors Takiya Kawakami (1871 - 1915), the Japanese naturalist who collected the type specimen on Yü Shan (Mount Morrison), the highest peak in Taiwan.

Central mountain ranges of Taiwan. Forming pure stands and mixed with other conifers and a few hardwoods in the subalpine zone, particularly on the northern and northeastern side of the peaks; (2,400-)2,800-3,200(-3,600) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened

Abies kawakamii has a limited extent of occurrence and area of occupancy that are within the thresholds for Endangered under B1 and B2 criteria. Subpopulations could be considered severely fragmented and there are between five and ten locations when fire is considered as the main potential threat. However, as there is currently no evidence of a continuing decline, an assessment of Near Threatened is appropriate.

Grows on montane slopes in grey brown podzolized soils and also on mountain yellow earth, both acid and usually rocky. The climate is temperate, super humid: above humid subtropical foothills the annual precipitation exceeds 4,000 mm, with maxima up to 10,000 mm, making the Taiwanese central high mountains one of the wettest mountain ranges in the world. There are some pure forests on the N and NE slopes at these high elevations (3,200 m to 3,600 m a.s.l.), or the species occurs mixed with scattered Pinus armandii var. mastersiana, Tsuga chinensis var. chinensis, Picea morrisonicola, and with Juniperus squamata var. morrisonicola at the upper limit of Abies. At lower elevations the forest becomes progressively more mixed with broad-leaved trees, e.g. Acer insulare, Trochodendron aralioides, Quercus semecarpifolia subsp. glabra, Ilex bioritsensis, and Eurya spp. Other conifers in this belt are Tsuga chinensis var. chinensis, which becomes more abundant than Abies kawakamii between 2,400 m and 3,000 m a.s.l., Pseudotsuga sinensis, and Chamaecyparis obtusa var. formosana, which is more abundant below 2,400 m.

Logging of this species, which occurred mainly during the period of Japanese occupation (1895 - 1945), has ceased almost completely and substantial populations now occur within national parks and other reserves. Its limited distribution and occurrence in a mosaic with subalpine bamboo grassland makes it vulnerable to fires that could be caused by much increased tourism. Regeneration after fire can be very slow.

The timber of this species was formerly exported to Japan, where it was used for general carpentry. It is little used for this purpose today in Taiwan. This species was introduced to England in 1930 and is occasionally found in arboreta in Europe and North America, but remains uncommon in cultivation.

Parts of the population of this species occur within 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 CodeABISBCL832
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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