The Gymnosperm Database

line drawing

Line drawing; for full size image go to the Flora of China (Wu and Raven 1999).

foliage photograph

Foliage on a tree in the Seattle Arboretum [C.J. Earle].

foliage photograph

Fallen cones from a tree in the Seattle Arboretum [C.J. Earle].


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for the species:

Conservation status

for var. aurantiaca:

Conservation status

Picea asperata

Masters 1906

Common names

Dragon spruce (Farjon 1990); 云杉 yun shan [Chinese] (Wu and Raven 1999).

Taxonomic notes

Picea asperata belongs to Clade III R of Ran et al. (2006), which contains P. abies and most of the northeast Asian spruces (including P. crassifolia, P. koraiensis, P. koyamae, P. meyeri, P. obovata and P. retroflexa).

There are four varieties (Wu and Raven 1999):


Trees to 45 m tall and 100 cm dbh. Bark gray-brown, furrowed into irregular, rough, scaly plates. Branchlets brownish yellow or reddish brown, turning brown or brownish gray. Leaves directed forward or ascending on upper side of branchlets, parted and spreading laterally on lower side, glaucous or not, slightly curved, quadrangular in cross section, 10-20×1-2 mm, stomatal lines 4-8 along each (upper and lower) surface, apex acute. Seed cones green, maturing pale brown or reddish brown, cylindric, 5-16×2.5-3.5 cm. Seed scales obovate, 2 × 1.5 cm, margin entire or denticulate. Seeds obovoid, ca. 4 mm, with an 11 mm wing. Pollination April-May, seed maturity September-October (Wu and Raven 1999).

The four varieties are distinguished as follows (Wu and Raven 1999):

1. Seed scales 2-lobed at apex var. heterolepis
1. Seed scales entire or (rarely) slightly denticulate 2.
2. Leaves not glaucous, slender, apex acute.or obtuse-acute; branchlets not glaucous, pubescent or glabrous var. asperata
2. Leaves glaucous, stout, apex somewhat pungent; branchlets glaucous and glabrous var. aurantiaca

Distribution and Ecology

China: SE Qinghai, NE of Qinghai Hu (Lake Kokonor), Gansu, Sichuan, Ningxia (Helan Shan), & SW Shaanxi (Farjon 1990). Hardy to Zone 6 (cold hardiness limit between -23.2°C and -17.8°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Var. aurantiaca is confined to a small area west of Kangding in Sichuan. Forests in this area are increasingly under pressure from indiscriminate logging. Populations have declined and, as yet, there is no protection for the species (Conifer Specialist Group 1998).

Big tree







Conifer Specialist Group. 1998. Picea aurantiaca. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4., accessed 2010.12.21.

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.

Masters, M.T. 1906. On the conifers of China. Journal of the Linnaean Society, Botany 37:419. Available online at

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Farjon (2010).

Last Modified 2017-12-29