The Gymnosperm Database

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Conservation status

Abies koreana

E.H. Wilson 1920

Common names

Korean fir (Silba 1986).

Taxonomic notes

Type, E.H. Wilson 9486, collected 1917.10.31 on Quelpaert Island, Hallai-San [now known as Hallasan National Park on Jeju Island] (Wilson 1920).


"A shrub or broadly pyramidal tree 9-18 m. tall, 1-2 m. in girth. Bark smooth, with resin blisters, then furrowed and plate-like, purplish then pale gray, inner-bark reddish-brown. Branchlets grooved, slightly pubescent, shiny gray or yellowish-red becoming purplish. Buds ovoid, free from the leaves, chestnut-brown to red with whitish resin, 8-1.2 mm. in diameter. Leaves crowded, spreading upwards and outwards, nearly spirally arranged, straight, linear, keeled below, shiny green above, bluish-white below; stomata usually absent above, with 10 stomatal lines below; 1-2.5 cm. long by 2-3 mm. wide, apex notched. Male strobili globular-ovoid, reddish-yellow or green tinted violet-brown 1 cm. long by 0.7 cm. wide. Female cone broadly rounded, blunt-topped, 5-7 cm. long by 2.5-4 cm. wide, blue-gray then dark violet with white resin spots; scales reniform; bracts slightly exserted and reflexed, reddish-brown. Seed ovoid, nut violet-purple, 7mm. long; wing reddish-brown" (Silba 1986).

"It is characterized by its pyramidal habit, its deeply fissured rough bark and by its cones with exserted bracts. It combines most of the characters of the three related species Abies nephrolepis Maxim., A. sachalinensis Mast, and A. Veitchii Lindl. The first has similar but less rough bark, longer leaves with median resin-ducts and the bracts of the cone are included; Abies sachalinensis has a cone with exserted reflexed bracts but is greenish purple in color; the leaves have median resin ducts and the bark is perfectly smooth with prominent resin pustules; Abies Veitchii has a similar habit and leaves with lateral resin-ducts, but in this species the bark is always smooth and the bracts of the cone-scales are shorter or only slightly longer than the scales. The new species is certainly very distinct and its very rough bark is unique among the species of its group" (Wilson 1920).

Distribution and Ecology

Korea: Jeju Island and Chirisan, 1000-1900 m elevation (Wilson 1920). Hardy to Zone 5 (cold hardiness limit between -28.8°C and -23.3°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

"Abies koreana Wils. is an alpine species and on Hallai-san is abundant above altitudes of 1000 meters, either forming pure woods or mixed with Betula Ermani Cham., but the trees are not large. On Chiri-san, on the mainland, it is common above 1200 meters to the summit (1850 meters), growing with mixed deciduous leafed trees and Picea jezoensis Carr., and there the trees reach their maximum development" (Wilson 1920).

Big tree







Wilson, E.H. 1920. Four new conifers from Korea. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 1:186-190. Available at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, accessed 2012.11.17.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

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.
- Provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Farjon (2010).

Last Modified 2017-12-29