Abeto de Vejar [Spanish], Vejar fir.
Taxa in this species include Abies vejarii Martínez subsp. vejarii var. vejarii; Abies vejarii Martínez subsp. vejarii var. macrocarpa Martínez 1948; and Abies vejarii Martínez subsp. mexicana (Martínez) (Farjon 1990).
Subsp. mexicana has been the subject of some controversy, described as Abies mexicana Martínez 1942 and still commonly called by that name in Mexico, but reduced to a variety Abies vejarii Martínez var mexicana (Martínez) T.S. Liu 1971 and most recently assigned to a subspecies by Farjon (1990). Rushforth (1987) asserts that it differs from A. vejarii "in foliage arrangement, cones and bark and also in ecology," which would seem to suggest that it is quite a distinct taxon; Farjon (1990) acknowledges without replying to Rushforth's objections. For my part I reserve judgement until that happy day when I have the chance to inspect populations representing these species.
Trees to 40 m tall and 150 cm dbh, with a broad conical or pyramidal crown and a single straight trunk with horizontally spreading branches. Bark smooth, thin, grey, on older trees becoming scaly, rough and fissured, grey-brown. Branchlets slender, firm, purple-red turning orange-brown, fairly smooth, shallowly grooved, glabrous. Buds globose, 2.5 × 3 mm, very resinous, with persistent keeled bud-scales. Leaves spirally arranged, 10-20(-25) mm long × 1.3-2 mm wide, slightly twisted at base, shallowly grooved above, stomata from few to 10 lines above, in two broad whitish bands below; resin canals 2, marginal, small. Pollen cones lateral, crowded, globose, 5 mm, reddish. Seed cones lateral, erect, ovoid-oblong with obtuse or truncate apex, 6-12 × 4-6 cm, dark purple ripening to dark brown. Bract scales 2.5 cm long, exserted, first erect then recurved in mature cones. Seeds 8-10 mm long with a 15 × 12 mm violet-brown wing (Farjon 1990).
A. vejarii subsp. mexicana has smaller cones (up to 10 cm) with shorter, included bract scales and may have more deeply grooved, weakly pubescent branchets (Farjon 1990). Rushforth (1987) adds that the bark is cracked into small squares, and the branchets are reddish-brown.
Abies vejarii subsp. vejarii var. vejarii has larger cones (10-15 × 5-7 cm) than the type variety and has a restricted range, as noted below (Farjon 1990).
Mexico: SE Coahuila to Nuevo León and W Tamaulipas, in two disjunct areas in the northern part of the Sierra Madre Oriental of N Mexico. It is found in high mountains at (2,000-)2,800-3,300 m elevation; the climate is cool, with dry summers and wet winters. Codominant species include pines, oaks, and Pseudotsuga menziesii subsp. glauca. Abies vejarii ssp. mexicana is restricted to the Sierra de Santa Caterina, which borders the states of Coahuilla and Nuevo León, where it grows at 2,000-3,000 m elevation on north slopes and in steep ravines. Abies vejarii subsp. vejarii var. vejarii is restricted to the Mesa de las Tablas of Coahuilla, and on Cerro Potosí in Nuevo León (Farjon 1990).
Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
This species is listed as threatened in Mexico under NOM-ECOL-059-94. So is subsp. mexicana
I have only seen it on Cerro Potosí in Nuevo León. Access is relatively easy; the area is a park and a good (if rocky) road climbs from the village of Dieciocho del Marzo to the summit. The area is extremely interesting from the point of view of conifer diversity, having, in addition to Abies vejarii, Abies religiosa, Pinus arizonica, Pinus culminicola, Pinus hartwegii, Pinus nelsonii, Pinus strobiformis, Pseudotsuga menziesii subsp. glauca, and a nearby stand of Pinus greggii.
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.
Martínez, M. 1942. Tres especies nuevas méxicanas del género Abies. Anales Inst. Biol. Univ. Nac. México 13(2):621-634.
Last Modified 2017-12-29