The Gymnosperm Database


Range map (redrawn from Farjon [1990]).


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Conservation status

Abies chensiensis

Van Tieghem 1892

Common names

Shensi fir; 秦岭冷杉 qin ling leng shan [Chinese] (Fu et al. 1999).

Taxonomic notes


Farjon (1990) recognized 2 subspecies, yulongxueshanensis Rushforth 1984 and salouenensis (Bord.-Rey et Gaussen) Rushforth [Syn: A. salouenensis Bord.-Rey et Gaussen; A. ernestii var. salouenensis (Bord.-Rey et Gaussen) Cheng et Fu; A. recurvata var. salouenensis (Bord.-Rey et Gaussen) CT. Kuan]. Fu et al. (1999) do not refer to either of these subspecies; I suspect that their description, which also provides no synonymy, is simply a translation of the one provided by Cheng et al. (1978).


Trees to 50 m tall and 250 cm dbh, with a straight round trunk and short, massive primary branches. Bark on young trees dark grey and smooth, becoming longitudinally fissured on old trees. Branchlets stout, yellow-grey to yellow-brown, shiny, ridged between leaf scars, glabrous or puberulent; leaf scars round with a light center. Vegetative buds conical or ovoid, 10 × 6 mm or larger on some leading shoots, resinous; bud scales triangular to ovate, red-brown, persistent. Leaves ± pectinately arranged in 2 lateral sets, dark green adaxially, linear, flattened, 1.5-4.8 cm × 2.5-3 mm, twisted at base, grooved above; stomata in two broad bands divided by a midrib below; resin canals 2, marginal or median on cone-bearing branchlets, apex variable. Pollen cones lateral, 10 mm long. Seed cones lateral, erect on short peduncles, green, ripening brown, cylindric or ovoid-cylindric, 7-10 × 3-4 cm, leaving a persistent, conical, dark brown axil. Seed scales at middle of cones variously described [I have not seen them] as ovate-cuneate to cyathiform or reniform, ca. 1.5 × 2.5 cm or 2.5-3 × 3-3.5 cm, tomentose to puberulent. Bracts included, ligulate, ca. 3/4 as long as seed scales, distal margin erose-denticulate, apex with short cusp. Seeds brown, obovoid, 8-10 × 5 mm, with a pale brown cuneate 20 × 10 mm wing (Farjon 1990, Fu et al. 1999).

Subsp. yulongxueshanensis differs from the type subspecies in having 10-14 cm long cones and marginal resin canals in leaves of coning shoots (Farjon 1990).

Subsp. salouenensis differs from the type subspecies in having needles up to 7.5+ cm long and marginal resin canals in leaves of coning shoots. (Farjon 1990).

Distribution and Ecology

China: S Shaanxi, W Hubei (highlands), S Gansu, W Sichuan, SW Henan (Neixiang Xian) (Fu et al. 1999); Farjon (1990) also places it in SE Xizang and NW Yunnan, and India: Arunachal Pradesh. It grows in cold, moist forests at (2100-)2300-3000(-3500) m elevation, in regions with annual precipitation of 1000-2000 mm. It is usually found with Picea spp., Abies fargesii var. sutchuenensis, Tsuga chinensis, Larix potaninii at high elevations, and Betula spp. at lower elevations; also as a pure forest in Tsin-ling Shan (Farjon 1990). Hardy to Zone 6 (cold hardiness limit between -23.2°C and -17.8°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Ssp. yulongxueshanensis is found on Yulongxue Shan in the Lijiang Shan of northern Yunnan (Farjon 1990).

Ssp. salouenensis is found in China: NW Yunnan, Tibet: SE Xizang and India: NE Arunachal Pradesh (Farjon 1990).

Big tree







Cheng Wan-chün, Fu Li-kuo, Law Yu-wu, Fu Shu-hsia, Wang Wen-tsai, Chu Cheng-de, Chao Chi-son and Chen Chia-jui. 1978. Pinaceae. In: Cheng Wan-chün and Fu Li-kuo, eds., Flora Reipubl. Popularis Sinica 7: 32-281.

Farjon, Aljos. 1990. Pinaceae: drawings and descriptions of the genera Abies, Cedrus, Pseudolarix, Keteleeria, Nothotsuga, Tsuga, Cathaya, Pseudotsuga, Larix and Picea. Königstein: Koeltz Scientific Books.

See also

Rushforth, K.D. 1984. Notes on Chinese silver firs 2. Notes of the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh 41(3):535-540.

Wang (1961).

Last Modified 2017-12-29