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photo

Abies firma in habitat on northern Kyushu, near the city of Fukuoka [Tom Velardi, 2004].

photo

Crown of an old tree in the forest shown above [Tom Velardi, 2004].

 

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Conservation status

Abies firma

Siebold et Zuccarini 1842

Common names

モミ [Japanese], Momi fir.

Taxonomic notes

Synonymy (Farjon 1998):

Description

Tree to 50 m. tall and 200 cm dbh. Trunk massive, straight, with long branches horizontal or ascending. Crown broadly pyramidal or domed, becoming flat-topped with age. Bark gray, smooth with resin blisters when young, then fissured, corky and darker with age. Branchlets grooved, yellowish-green to gray-brown, glabrous or with fine blackish pubescence. Buds ovoid to conical, to 10 × 5 mm, slightly resinous, with broadly conical scales, grayish-brown, persisting several years. Juvenile leaves bifid, extremely sharp pointed, present at the base of old trees. Leaves pectinate, nearly 2-3 ranked, spreading outwards and upwards, with a distinct V-like parting, grooved above, keeled below, bright dark green above, glaucous-yellow below; stomata usually absent above, in 12-13 lines below; 1.5-3.5 cm long by 2-4 mm. wide, base twisted, apex obtuse, emarginate or notched. Pollen cones cylindrical, yellowish, solitary and pendant in leaf axils, 2.5-3 cm long. Seed cone ovoid-oblong to conical, apex rounded, green with yellow bracts, maturing yellow-brown, 8-15 cm long by 3-5 cm. wide, resinous; bracts erect and slightly exserted, narrow, diamond-shaped. Seed scales 2-2.5 cm long by 2.8-3.2 cm wide, smooth or longitudinally striated. Seed 6-8 mm long, light brown with a 10-15 mm long brownish wing (Silba 1986, Farjon 1990).

Distribution and Ecology

Japan: Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Yakushima at (50-)300-1000(-1900) m, rarely in pure stands on dry sites but usually in mixed forest with a variety of other conifers (Abies homolepis, Chamaecyparis obtusa, Cryptomeria japonica, Pinus parviflora, Pinus densiflora, Pseudotsuga japonica, Sciadopitys verticillata, Torreya nucifera Tsuga sieboldii) and hardwoods (Carpinus laxifolia, Castanea crenata, Fagus crenata, Fagus japonica, Quercus spp.). Climate warm-temperate to cool, with precipitation >1000 mm (Silba 1986, Farjon 1990, Vidakovic 1991). Hardy to Zone 6 (cold hardiness limit between -23.2°C and -17.8°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree

Oldest

Suzuki (1997) studied this species on Yakushima Island. He cites his own previous work (Suzuki and Susukida 1989) in having found a tree stump with 624 rings on Yakushima. He also cites Nakao (1985) as having derived a ring-counted age of 410 years on Mt. Gozen, Yame, Hukuoka, Japan (33.167°N, 130.833°E).

Dendrochronology

Ethnobotany

In Japan, the wood is used for construction and coffins. As with most species having wood of a uniform light color, the Japanese find it exceptionally pleasing. In the U.S. and Europe it is a popular ornamental species.

Observations

Tom Velardi (e-mail 2004.04.25) recommends the forest pictured at left, near Fukuoka on Kyushu, on a holy mountain named Homanzan, very near the famous Tenmangu Shrine in the town of Dazaifu. The forest here is old and complex, with a multi-storied composition of mixed deciduous/evergreen broadleaf trees and conifers. The broadleaf trees represent many genera, such asQuercus, Myrica, Camellia, Castenea, Acer, Carpinus, Magnolia, Betula, Tillia, Rhus, and Diospyros).

Remarks

Citations

Suzuki E. and Susukida J. 1989. Age structure and regeneration process of temperate coniferous stands in the Segire River basin, Yakushima Island. Japanese Journal of Ecology 39: 45-51 [in Japanese with English summary].

See also

Ando T., Chiba K., Nishimura T., and Tanimoto T. 1977. Temperate fir and hemlock forests in Shikoku. In: Shidei T. and Kira T. (eds.). Primary productivity of Japanese forests. JIB synthesis. Tokyo, Japan: University of Tokyo Press, 16:213-224.

Iwatsuki et al. (1995).

Kurata S. 1971. Illustrated important forest trees of Japan. Vols. 1 and 2. Tokyo, Japan: Chikyu Shuppan Co. Ltd.

Suzuki E. and Tsukahara J. 1987. Age structure and regeneration of old growth Cryptomeria japonica forests on Yakushima Island. Bot. Mag. Tokyo 100:223-241.

Wu and Raven (1999).

Last Modified 2012-11-28