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Abies recurvata

Abies recurvata - Min fir, Minjiang fir, Recurved-needle fir
  • Abies recurvata - Min fir, Minjiang fir, Recurved-needle fir - Click to enlarge
  • Abies recurvata branches - Click to enlarge
  • Abies recurvata leaves - Click to enlarge


Product Information


Scientific name: Abies recurvata  Masters  1906

Synonyms: Abies recurvata var. recurvata

Infraspecific taxa: Abies recurvata var. ernestii  (Rehder) Rushforth  1984

Common names: Min fir, Minjiang fir, Recurved-needle fir (English), Ziguo lengshan (Chinese)



Tree to 40(-60) m tall, with trunk to 1.5(-2.5) m in diameter. Bark dark gray, browning, flaking, and becoming ridged and furrowed with age. Branchlets hairless or with short-lived, small, dark hairs in the deep grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 4-8 mm long, variably resinous. Needles arranged to the sides and above the twigs, angled backward on the leader and other exceptionally vigorous shoots, 1-2.5(-3.5) cm long, sometimes widest near the tip, shiny bright green or dulled with wax above, the tip bluntly to sharply pointed, even prickly on young trees, or occasionally notched. Individual needles flat in cross section and with a resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis or away from it near the margin, without or with five to seven (to eight) incomplete lines of stomates near the tip in the groove above and with 9-13 lines in each greenish white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 10-15 mm long, red. Seed cones elongate egg-shaped to cylindrical, (4-)5-8(-10) cm long, 2.5-3.5(-5) cm across, violet-purple when young, maturing grayish brown. Bracts usually less than three-quarters as long as the fuzzy seed scales and hidden by them but sometimes the tips just sticking out in the lower half of the cone. Persistent cone axis thick and swollen in the middle. Seed body (5-)7-10 mm long, the wing a little shorter. Cotyledons four to six.

West-central China, from southern Gansu to southeastern Xizang (Tibet). Often forming pure stands or mixed with numerous other conifers and some hardwoods in a high montane forest in valleys and on gentle slopes; 2,300-3,200(-3,800) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable

A past reduction of more than 30%, but less than 50% is inferred to have occurred in the past 150 years (three generations) following extensive logging prior to the introduction of a logging ban in 1998. The reduction may been greater than 50% but more information is needed to confirm this. Consequently, this variety is assessed as Vulnerable.

Min fir is a high mountain species of SW China, occurring between 2,300 m and 3,600 m a.s.l. or even higher. It grows usually on grey-brown mountain podzols. The climate is cold, moist, with annual precipitation between 700 mm and 1,000 mm. It is usually a constituent of a mixed coniferous forest type, with among other species Abies squamata, Picea likiangensis var. rubescens, Picea asperata, and Larix potaninii; Picea purpurea and Abies fargesii var. faxoniana are mainly found with the 'typical' variety, and Abies fabri with var. ernestii. Betula albosinensis is the only common broad-leaved tree at higher elevations, but lower down the slopes other genera, e.g. Acer, Populus, but also different conifer species, e.g. Tsuga chinensis, Picea brachytyla var. complanata and Pinus armandii become more abundant.

Past logging has reduced the population. Future threats include acid rain and possibly climate change. A timber tree in western China, heavily exploited until recently when the Chinese government finally decided to preserve its remaining old growth forests in the western provinces. Its timber was used mainly for construction and carpentry work. Although not common in cultivation it makes a desirable tree for cultivation in western gardens which would enhance its ex situ conservation.

The Government of China has recently imposed a logging ban in western China. This taxon may be included in some 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 CodeABICYGXX69
Weight1.5 kg
Height20 - 25 cm

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