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Abies recurvata var. ernestii

Abies recurvata var. ernestii - Wilson fir, Ernest fir
  • Abies recurvata var. ernestii - Wilson fir, Ernest fir  - Click to enlarge
  • Abies recurvata var. ernestii branches - Click to enlarge
  • Abies recurvata var. ernestii leaves - Click to enlarge


Product Information


Scientific name: Abies recurvata var. ernestii   (Rehder) K. Rushforth  1984

Synonyms: Abies beissneriana  Rehder & E.H.Wilson, Abies chensiensis var. ernestii  (Rehder) Tang S.Liu, Abies ernestii  Rehder, Abies recurvata subsp. ernestii  (Rehder) Silba

Common names: Wilson fir, Ernest fir (English), Huangguo 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 sometimes lightly hairy, the grooves very deep. Buds 6-8 mm long, variably resinous. Needles generally less strongly recurved, 2-3.5 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. Cone axis more strongly swollen. Seed body (5-)7-10 mm long, the wing a little shorter.

Abies recurvata var. ernestii was introduced to cultivation in 1903 when Ernest Henry Wilson (1876 - 1930) sent material from western Sichuan. Based on this gathering Rehder described a new species, Abies beissneriana, but as this was shown to be illegitimate he later substituted the name Abies ernestii. Following its introduction, it was compared with Abies firma of Japan, and it has since been treated as a variety of both Abies chensiensis and Abies recurvata, the latter placement being most common in western treatments after Rushforth (1984) showed that Abies ernestii and Abies recurvata are very closely related (Rushforth 1984; Rushforth 1999). The most reliable means of separating them are: the longer leaves in Abies ernestii; the notched or bifid apex (on sterile shoots) of Abies ernestii (cf. acute or rounded or weakly emarginate); the shoots of Abies recurvata var. ernestii more yellowish-brown in their first year, lacking the pinkish tinge typical of Abies recurvata which they develop later (Fu, Li & Mill 1999; Rushforth 1984).

Western Sichuan (China) and eastern Xizang (Tibet); 2,300-3,200 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable

A decline of more than 30%, but less than 50% is inferred to have occurred over the past three generations (150 years) primarily as a result of logging prior to the introduction of a ban in 1998. Consequently, this variety is assessed as Vulnerable. It is uncertain if the decline is continuing.

Forms forests or small stands in mixed forest. Occurs in small stands or mixed forest with broadleaved trees at lower elevations than other Abies in western Sichuan, occurring between 2,300 and 3,200 m asl.

Past logging has affected this species, plus pressure on lower elevation sites associated with expanding populations.

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.

The Government of China has recently imposed a logging ban in western China. It occurs in 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 CodeABISARNG75
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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