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Abies delavayi

Abies delavayi - Delavay's fir description


Scientific name: Abies delavayi   Franchet   1899

Synonyms: Abies delavayi subsp. delavayi, Abies delavayi var. delavayi

Infraspecific taxa: Abies delavayi subsp. fansipanensis   (Q.P.Xiang, L.K.Fu & Nan Li) Rushforth  1999, Abies delavayi var. motuoensis   W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu  1975, Abies delavayi var. nukiangensis  (W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu) Farjon & Silba  1990  

Common names: Delavay fir, Delavay's fir (English), Yuan bian zhong, Cang shan leng shan (Chinese)



Tree to 40 m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) in diameter. Bark light gray, darkening, browning, flaking, and then becoming deeply ridged and furrowed with are. Branchlets hairless or transiently minutely hairy in the shallow grooves between the leaf bases. Buds 4-8(-12) mm long, coated with reddish brown resin. Needles arranged all around the twigs or, more commonly, concentrated to their sides and angled forward above them, (1-)1.5-3(-4.5) cm long, shiny dark green above, the tips blunt or notched. Individual needles flat in cross section but with the margins rolled under, often covering the stomatal bands, with a small resin canal on either side touching the lower epidermis near the leaf margins, without stomates above and with 9-11 lines of stomates in each white stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones 20-35(-40) mm long, reddish purple. Seed cones oblong or barrel-shaped 6-11(-14) cm long, 3-4.5(-5.5) cm across, violet black with a thin waxy coating when young, maturing blackish brown. Bracts about as long as the slightly hairy seed scales and with an added bristle tip usually sticking up, out, or down a little between the scales, sometimes hidden by them at the top of the seed cone or throughout. Persistent cone axis swollen in the middle. Seed body 5-8 mm long, the wing a little shorter. Cotyledons four to six.

The species name honors Père Jean-Marie Delavay (1834 – 1895), a French missionary and botanist who collected the type specimen and sent seed back to Europe during his stay in Yunnan, China, from 1884 until his death there on New Year’s Eve in 1895.

Southwestern China, western Sichuan, southeastern Xizang (Tibet), northwestern Yunnan, and adjacent Myanmar. Forming pure stands in the subalpine belt or mixed with other conifers and hardwoods there and in the montane forest below; (1,500-)2,500-4,000(-4,300) m. The climate is extremely wet, with cool summers and cold, snowy winters (annual precipitation ranges from 1,000 mm to 3,000 mm and more).


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern



Abies delavayi ‘Buchanan’
Abies delavayi ‘Green Giant’   
Abies delavayi ‘Major Neishe’ 
Abies delavayi ‘Midnight Blue’
Abies delavayi ‘Nana’
Abies delavayi ‘Numogne Hai’
Abies delavayi ‘Tauperle’


Attribution from: Conifers Garden