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Abies religiosa

Abies religiosa - Sacred fir description


Scientific name: Abies religiosa  (Kunth) Schltdl. & Cham.  1830

Synonyms: Abies colimensis Rushforth & Narave, Abies glauca Roezl ex Gordon, Abies glaucescens Roezl, Abies hirtella (Kunth) Lindl., Abies tlapalcatuda Roezl, Picea glaucescens (Roezl) Gordon, Picea hirtella (Kunth) Loudon, Picea religiosa (Kunth) Loudon, Pinus hirtella Kunth, Pinus religiosa Kunth

Common names: Sacred fir, Oyamel fir (English), Pinabete (Spanish)



Tree to 45(-60) m tall, trunk to 1.5(-2) m in diameter. Bark grayish white, darkening or browning and breaking up into irregular plates with age. Branchlets at first sparsely to densely hairy in the prominent grooves between the leaf bases, the hairs disappearing with age. Buds 2-4 mm, thickly covered with white to yellowish resin. Needles arranged to the sides in several rows and also forward over the twig on lower branches and upward on higher branches with seed cones (1-)3-5(-9) cm long, shiny bright green to waxy bluish green above, the tip usually pointed or rounded but sometimes notched. Individual needles flat in cross section and with a resin canal on each side touching the lower epidermis near the outer margin, without stomates or with about five interrupted lines of stomates in the groove above, especially near the tip, and with 8-12 lines in each bluish white waxy stomatal band beneath. Pollen cones (12-)20-40 mm long, red. Seed cones cylindrical to oblong, (8-)12-16 cm long, 4-6.5(-8) cm across, purple when young, maturing purplish brown. Bracts about as long as the minutely fuzzy seed scales or somewhat longer, emerging between the scales and bent down over them. Persistent cone axis narrowly conical. Seed body (8-)9-12(-14) mm long, the wing 1-1.5 times as long. Cotyledons five or six.

Throughout central Mexico the branches are cut to decorate churches on feast days, explaining the scientific name. The common name oyamed is the Mexican Spanish continuation of the classical Aztec name for the tree, oyametl.

Central Mexico, from Jalisco and Guerrero to Hidalgo and Veracruz. Forming pure stands or mixed with pines (Pinus), oaks (Quercus), or other hardwoods on mountainsides and I mountain valleys; (1,800-)2,500-3,500(-4,100) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern


Varieties: -


Attribution from: Conifers Garden