Two subspecies, the type (syn: Keteleeria fabri Masters 1902; Pinus fabri (Masters) Voss 1913; A. delavayi var. fabri (Masters) Hunt 1967); A. faberi (Masters) Craib 1919; and subspecies minensis (Bord. et Gauss.) Rushforth 1986 (syn: Abies minensis Bord. et Gauss. 1947; Abies fabri var. minensis Silba 1990 (Farjon 1998).
Trees to 40 m tall and 100 cm dbh. Bark gray or dark gray, flaky. Branchlets puberulent or glabrous, light brown or gray-yellow, turning brown-gray in 2nd or 3rd year. Leaves ascending on upper side of branchlets, pectinately arranged in 2 lateral sets on lower side, bright green, linear, 1.5-3 cm × 2-2.5 mm, margin revolute, apex emarginate or obtuse, stomata in 2 white bands on lower surface; resin canals 2, marginal. Seed cones shortly pedunculate, slightly glaucous, ovoid-cylindric, 6-11 × 3-4.5 cm. Seed scales flabellate-trapeziform, 1.4-2 × 1.6-2.4 cm, margin auriculate. Bracts cuneate-obovate, apex broadly rounded, shortly cuspidate, cusp slightly exserted, reflexed, acute. Seeds narrowly ellipsoid, 1.3-1.6 cm including black-brown, cuneate wing. Pollination May, seed maturity Oct. (Wu and Raven 1999). See illustration at left; see also Farjon (1990).
China: Sichuan: The middle and lower reaches of the Dadu River, the Qingyi River valley, on Mount Emei, and in the Daliang Mountains, at 2000-3100(-3600) m. It mainly forms pure stands or large mixed stands with Picea likiangensis, Tsuga chinensis, bamboo (Sinarundaria spp.), many different species of Rhododendron, and other shrubs. There are about 230,000 ha of natural forest, mainly in the Ebian, Mabian and Ya'an regions of Sichuan. Climate is cold and wet with an average annual temperature of 3-8°C and average annual precipitation >2000 mm. This species is very shade tolerant, but regeneration is best on sunny or semi-shaded slopes (Farjon 1990).
Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
Its wood has been used for construction, railway sleepers, telegraph poles, veneer, papermaking, matches and toothpicks. The gum extracted from its bark is regarded as an important adhesive for optical microscopy. It is also an important shelterbelt tree and is an important component of the Yangtze River watershed.
Seen on Emei Shan and in Hailuogou Glacier Park, both in Sichuan.
E.H. Wilson (1913) describes the silver fir forests on Emei Shan: "At 6200 feet the Cunninghamia gives up the fisht, having struggled nobly until reduced to the dimensions of an insignificant shrub. A Silver Fir (Abies delavayi [in Wilson's day]) next assumes the sway, and right royally does it deserve the sceptre, for no more handsome Conifer exists in all the Far East; its large, erect, symmetrical cones are violet-black in colour and are usually borne in greatest profusion on the topmost branches. The temples on the higher parts of the mountain are constructed almost entirely of the timber of this tree. It is first met with on Mount Omei, at 6000 feet, at which altitude it is of no great size and unattractive in appearance; at 6500 feet it is a handsome tree. It is, however, between 8500 and 10,000 feet that this Silver Fir reaches its maximum size. In this belt hundreds of trees 80 to 100 feet tall, with a girth of 10 to 12 feet, can be found."
Wilson. E.H. 1913. A naturalist in western China.London: Methuen & Co. (p. 225).
The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.
Liu J.R. 1989. Estimating maximum stand density using projected tree crown areas. Scientia Silvae Sinicae 25(1):79-81.
Liu Z.G. 1990. Relations between fir mortality and the Huazang Temple conflagration at Jinding, Emei Mountain. Journal of Ecology Beijing 9(1):15-18.
Rushforth, K.D. 1986. Notes on Chinese silver firs. 3. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 43(2):269-275.
Yang Yupo. 1983. Faber Fir of China. Sichuan Forestry Science and Technology 4(3):7-11.
Yang Yupo, Li Ch-B. 1992. Forests of Sichuan Province. Beijing, China: China Forestry Publishing House, 264-288.
Zheng W.J. 1978. Silviculture of Chinese Trees. Beijing, China: China Agriculture Press.
Zheng W.J. and Fu L.G. 1978. Flora of China. Beijing, China: Science Press, 82-87.
Last Modified 2017-11-12