The Gymnosperm Database


Young tree at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew [C.J. Earle, 2010.06.14].


Foliage and nearly mature cone on the tree shown above [C.J. Earle, 2010.06.14].


Foliage and female flower on an arboretum tree, Seattle [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.05].


Prior year's cone on a tree in habitat, western Sichuan [C.J. Earle, 1989.04.27].


Bursting foliar buds on an arboretum tree, Seattle [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.04].

line drawing

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


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for the species:

Conservation status

for var. hirtella:

Conservation status

for var. montigena:

Conservation status

Picea likiangensis

(Franchet) E. Pritzel 1900

Common names

Lijiang spruce; 丽江云杉 Lijiang yunshan [Chinese].

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Abies likiangensis Franch.; Picea yunnanensis hort. ex Wilson. Four varieties here recognized (all from Farjon [1990]):

Picea likiangensis var. rubescens Rehder & Wilson (syn: P. balfouriana Rehder et Wilson; Picea likiangensis var. balfouriana (Rehder et Wilson) Slavin; P. sikangensis Cheng; P. balfouriana f. bicolor Cheng).

Picea likiangensis var. hirtella (Rehder & Wilson) Cheng ex Chen (syn: P. hirtella Rehder et Wilson; P. balfouriana var. hirtella (Rehder et Wilson) Cheng).

Picea likiangensis var. linzhiensis Cheng et Fu (syn: P. likiangensis var. linzhiensis f. bicolor Cheng et Fu).

Picea likiangensis var. montigena (Masters) Chenx ex Chen (syn: P. montigena Masters).


Trees to 50 m tall and 250 cm dbh, with a pyramidal crown. Bark gray or brown-gray, breaking into thick, irregular plates. Branchlets initially pale yellow or brownish yellow, turning gray or gray-yellow, sparsely pubescent. Leaves directed forward on upper side of branchlets, spreading on lower side, linear, straight or slightly curved, rhombic in cross section, 6-15×1-1.5 mm, with 4-7 stomatal lines on the upper and 0-4 on the lower surface, apex acute or obtuse. Seed cones maturing shades of red, brown, or dark purple, ovoid-cylindric, 4-12×1.7-3.5 cm when open. Seed scales rhombic-ovate, 15-26×10-17 mm, margin denticulate or undulate. Seeds gray-brown, subovoid, 7-14 mm including a pale brown wing with purplish spots. Pollination Apr-May, seed maturity Sep-Oct (Wu and Raven 1999).

Distribution and Ecology

Bhutan; China: S Qinghai, S and W Sichuan, E Xizang (Tibet), NW Yunnan, at 2500-4100 m elevation (Wu and Raven 1999). Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree





Can easily be found in mountain valleys in the vicinity of Kangding, Sichuan, where are found the type locales for several varieties first collected by E.H. Wilson (Farjon 1990).


Var. montigena is listed as endangered: "A useful timber tree restricted to a small area of high-altitude coniferous forest in south-west Sichuan. Levels of exploitation of both the tree and the forest in general have caused population declines. There are no signs of the pressure easing and no protection measures are enforced." Var. hirtella is listed as vulnerable: "This variety is restricted to high-altitude coniferous forests in the mountains of west Sichuan and neighbouring Tibet. The tree provides a useful timber and levels of exploitation of both it and the forest in general have caused serious habitat fragmentation and population declines" (World Conservation Monitoring Centre - Trees).


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.

Pritzel, E. Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 29: 217.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Zhuoxuan Lu, Yuhua Wang, Xiaolu Zhang, Helena Korpelainen, and Chunyang Li. 2009. Genetic variation of isolated Picea balfouriana populations from the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Annals of Forest Science 66:607-616. Available:, accessed 2009.10.14.

Last Modified 2017-12-29