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Abies bracteata

Abies bracteata - Bristlecone fir description


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, Sequoia gigantea Endl.

Common names: Bristlecone fir, Santa Lucia fir



Abies bracteata is the only member of the subgenus Pseudotorreya within the genus Abies. It is not closely related to any other member of the genus. 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. Individual needles slightly plump in cross section and with a small resin canal on either side at the far edge, just inside the lower epidermis, without stomates above and with 8-10 rows of stomates in each greenish white stomatal band beneath. 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. Bract blades about as long as the seed scales and emerging beyond them, the stiff, narrow tips extending out another 1-3 cm (hence the scientific and common names). Persistent cone axis broadly conical, widest below the midpoint. Seed body 6-10 mm long, the wing about as long. Cotyledons mostly seven.

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 ’Corbin’  
Abies bracteata ’Wilson’     


Attribution from: Conifers Garden