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Abies numidica

Abies numidica - Algerian fir, Algerian silver fir, Numidian fir, Sapin d'Algerie
  • Abies numidica - Algerian fir, Algerian silver fir, Numidian fir, Sapin d'Algerie - Click to enlarge
  • Abies numidica cones - Click to enlarge
  • Abies numidica leaves - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Abies numidica  de Lannoy ex Carrière  1866

Synonyms: Abies baborensis Coss., Abies pinsapo subsp. numidica (de Lannoy ex Carrière) A.E.Murray, Abies pinsapo var. baborensis Coss., Abies pinsapo var. numidica (de Lannoy ex Carrière) Salomon, Abies pinsapo subsp. numidica (de Lannoy ex Carrière) A.E.Murray, Picea numidica (de Lannoy ex Carrière) R.Sm. ex Gordon, Pinus baborensis (Coss.) W.R.McNab

Common names: Algerian fir, Algerian silver fir, Numidian fir (English), Sapin d'Algerie, Sapin de numidie (French),



Trees to 20 m tall, with trunk to 0.5-0.8 m in diameter.  Trunk monopodial, straight, columnar, terete, but on exposed sites often twisted and forked, crown broad pyramidal, usually dense but irregular. Bark smooth and grey in young trees, fissured and scaly, dark grey brown in old trees. Branches of first order continuous to base of trunk, spreading, the lower ones curved down, branches of second order dense, spreading horizontally, ascending near the top of the tree. Branchlets stout, firm, greyish brown or yellowish, or shining orange-brown, prominently ridged between the leaves, glabrous, leaf scars circular. Vegetative buds ovoid or broad conical, 5 × 4 mm, not resinous, or only slightly resinous at base; bud scales ovate, obtuse or acute, appressed, brown, persisting several years. Leaves spirally arranged, radially spreading, especially on shoots in the periphery of the crown, those on lower shaded branches sometimes more or less pectinate, on cone bearing shoots likewise radial, the upper leaves almost recurved, (1-)1.5-2(-2.5) cm long, 2-3 mm wide, twisted or curved at base, linear or ligulate-linear, flattened, keeled by a prominent midrib below, (dark) green, glaucous near the apex, two whitish green bands below; apex obtuse or faintly emarginate, rarely acutish on coning shoots. Stomata especially near the apex or in a median groove above, in two bands divided by a midrib below. Resin canals 2, marginal, small. Pollen cones lateral, crowded, 1-2.5 cm long, yellowish. Seed cones lateral, erect, with short, scaly peduncles, cylindric, with acutish, often papilliform apex, 12-18 cm long, 4-6 cm wide, light green tinged with purple when immature, maturing to green with purple hue, becoming light purplish brown when ripe; cone rachis persistent, narrowly conical, brown. Seed scales cuneate flabellate, length × width at mid-cone 2-3 × 2.5-3.5 cm; surface smooth, slightly striated, puberulent on exposed parts; upper margin entire, repand, base pedicellate. Bracts spathulate, with small cusps, 0.8-1 cm long, included, rarely the cusps exserted in lowest part of cone. Seeds cuneate, 6-8 mm long, light brown; seed wings cuneate-oblong, 12-15 mm long, light brown, tinged with purple.

Mounts Babor and Thababor, northeastern Algeria; 1,200-1,850(-2,000) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered

The total extent of occurrence (EOO) of forests containing Abies numidica is estimated to be less than 30 km². The actual area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be less than 1 km² (8 km² using standard IUCN methodology). Even though the area is protected by a National Park, there has been a continual loss in EOO, AOO and a decline in the quality of habitat as a result of forest fires, collection of firewood and grazing. This species is therefore listed as Critically Endangered.

Occurs in humid montane mixed forests on north- and east-facing steep calcareous slopes. The climate is particularly humid and cold, with annual precipitation of 2,500 mm, much of which falls as snow during the winter. The summers are dry and typical of a Mediterranean climate with an average of 18°C and a winter minimum of -1°C, with extreme frosts of between -8 to -10°C; however the northern slopes tend to be wetter due to their proximity to the coast. The annual rainfall is between 1,500-2,000 mm. Abies numidica has an altitudinal range of between 1,850-2,000 m. Typically they cover the mountain summits where they occur as pure stands (rare) or are co-dominant with Cedrus atlantica, Quercus faginea, Acer obtusatum, Populus tremula, Sorbus aria and Sorbus torminalis with the occasional tree of Taxus baccata.

Shrubs include Adenocarpus complicatus ssp. commutatus, Daphne laureola, Lonicera kabylica, Ribes petraeum (rare) and Rosa sicula. There is a rich herbaceous flora which includes: Asperula odorata, Moehringia stellariodes, Paeonia corallina, Senecio perralderianus, Viola munbyana, Silene atlantica, Silene patula. Alyssum spinosum, Anthyllis montana var algrica, Catananche montana, Erinacea anthyllis, Ononis aragonensis, Pimpinella battandieri are more characteristic at the highest altitudes very close to the mountain summit.

These forests are not only an important habitat for many endemic plants species but also for birds and animals which have very narrow ranges such as the Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti) and the Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus).

Abies numidica is threatened by a combination of factors including fire, fuel-wood collection and grazing by herds of cattle and goats in the summer. It appears that the young saplings are unable to establish due to a combination of dense under-storey and deep winter snow. The threats to the forest and endemic species are presumed to be ongoing, although the difficulties of access to the site (especially in winter) afford some degree of protection.

The forests of Abies numidica are within the Djebel Babor Nature Reserve (upgraded from a Natural Reserve in 1985). Entry to the Reserve is carefully controlled and the area is guarded by wardens to try and prevent timber extraction, hunting and grazing. A number of specific conservation proposals have been suggested and relevant authorities are said to be very supportive of action to protect the site, but no more recent information is available regarding its current status and management. The various actions proposed included a reduction in the levels of fuel-wood exploitation, habitat management including selective tree-felling, reforestation and supplementary planting in areas of cultivation, restrictions on grazing in certain habitat-types, surveillance, visitor management and prevention or control of forest-fires. In Djebel Babor, the number of Abies numidica trees has decreased by half since the 1950s (World Wildlife Fund, 2011). Although there are plans to make the area where Abies numidica occurs into a national park and a report has been produced, nothing has been implemented to date.



Abies numidica ’Anthoine’
Abies numidica ’Aurea’
Abies numidica ’Baron Nagel’  
Abies numidica ’Compacta’     
Abies numidica ’Delikado’
Abies numidica ’Draht’
Abies numidica ’Glauca’
Abies numidica ’Glauca Pendula’  
Abies numidica ’Haber’s Garden Pendula’
Abies numidica ’Lawrenceville’  
Abies numidica ’Nana’
Abies numidica ’Pendula’
Abies numidica ’Prostrate’
Abies numidica ’Select’  
Abies numidica ’Schwarzwald’
Abies numidica ’Trautmann’
Abies numidica ’Zwergform’



  • 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 CodeABIRQJ7R88
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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