Abies pindrow var. brevifolia Dallim. & A.B.Jacks., Handb. Conif. 126 1923. (syn: Abies gamblei Hickel; Abies pindrow subsp. brevifolia (Dallim. & A.B.Jacks.) Silba; Abies pindrow subsp. gamblei (Hickel) Rushforth; Abies pseudochensiensis Debreczy & I.Rácz);
W. Himalaya as per WCSP;
India: Garhwal and Kashmir Himalayas (Chamba District) as per Catalogue of Life;
Abies pseudochensiensis- A conifer tree in the west Himalayas: As part of the Dendrological Atlas Project team I briefly visited Himachal Pradesh a couple of times (2003, 2004) to document the native conifers, and the photographs were published in Conifers Around the World (see www.conifersaroundtheworld.com). I am still searching for a conifer which is not Abies pindrow, and not Abies gamblei (these are native on Mt. Churdhar, for example, you may have seen them before) – but a different one. Some photos are on the web here:
In the Western Himalayas, there are only two Fir, namely, Abies pindrow in lower altitudes and Abies spectabilis in higher altitudes. Abies gamblei is not recognised but as a variation of A.pindrow. A.spectabilis is also called A.webbiana. Abies densa is found in the Eastern Himalayas. I have not seen anything resembling the photo you have linked of the Abies pseudochensiensis anywhere in Uttarakhand Himalayas. I am not aware of anything similar in Himachal Pradesh too. However, there is very much scope of searching for more diverse populations as the conifers are rather unexplored taxonomically. For example, all the Firs in Valley of Flowers national park belongs to Abies spectabilis, but so far it has been reported only as Abies pindrow. There is no Abies pindrow at all in this national park. There could be other exotic species of Abies which were planted in the past and have survived. Similar is the case with Cupressus. Most of the Cupressus planted in different forest areas are mixtures of several exotic species of Cypress. The native Cupressus torulosa is restricted to only certain natural pockets.
It would be interesting if different populations of conifers could be worked out for taxonomic affinities. As per present knowledge, we recognise only two Fir species in Uttarakhand. A.pindrow (Silver Fir) having needles in one plane in long branches and A.spectabilis (High Altitude Fir) having needles in all planes and shorter branches.
It is very intersting to read the information you kindly provided.
Please find attached herewith two images of Abies sp. photographed at Mt. Churdhar in Himachal Pradesh. Apologies for the bad quality of the photographs.
A. gamblei?? Not sure of its identity.
This is Abies spactabilis and snaped at Tisri ,the way to Churdhar, alongwith my company.
I am attaching the photographs of Abies pindrow which I have clicked at an altitude of 3000 meters asl in the Paddar Valley J&K.
Sorry for bad quality of the images due to presence of cones at the top of tree.
Indiantreepix/ efloraofindia links at efloraofindia site can also be examined, if it serves any purpose:
In view of the fact that A. gamblei (which has been mostly treated as synonym of A. pindrow) is a distinct taxon whether you call it A. pindrow at species rank (book on World conifers) or A. pindrow var. brevifolia (Rehder, Manual of Cultivated Plants), or A. pindrow subsp. gamblei (established in 1999), also realising the fact A. densa (E. Himalayan) mostly treated under A. spectabilis earlier, and 2010 publication of A. pseudochensiensis (which was distributed in in Botanical gardens under the name A. gamblei or A. pindrow var. brevifolia-both W. Himalayan, or even A. chensiensis– a Chinese species), and important statement in this recent book that A. spectabilis is restricted to Central Himalayas, we should keep our options open to know exact identity and distribution of West Himalayan Abies species. I am trying to develop a simple key but when identifying for possible occurrence A. spectabilis in Western Himalayas the following features should be confirmed (let us for some time forget the confusion caused in Indian Floras and Books due to incomplete understanding of synonyms):
1. A. gamblei Hick., 1929 (syn: A. pindrow var. brevifolia Dallimore and Jackson, 1923; A. pindrow subsp. gamblei subsp. gamblei (Hick.) Rushforth, 1999: Branchlets initially yellowish-gray, maturing grey (needs confirmation since Rehder, 1940 mentions branches reddish brown), leaves smaller 2-3.5 cm long, radially outspreading, flat with stoma lines on upper surface; cones gray-blue to purplish, 6-10 cm long, bracts hidden, alt. 3000-3500 m, W. Himal.
2. A. densa: Branchlets gray-yellow, leaves radially spreading or ascending in upper side of branches, in two rows on under side, 2-4.5 cm long, two white lines on under side, needle margins recurved; cones 8-10 cm long, black-purple, cone bracts slightly emerging with cuspidate apex. Eastern Himalayas.
3. A. pindrow: Bark smooth and gray in young trees, grayish-brown in old; Branchlet smooth and gray, glabrous; leaves outspreading in two rows (pectinate-comb-like), down-curved, forward-directed, 3-6 cm long, gray bands beneath; fertile branches almost smooth, white; cones 10-15 cm long, deep purple, bracts hidden, scales 3 cm broad.
4. A. spectabilis: Branches conspicuously furrowed, yellowish-brown, often brown hairy; leaves 3-6 cm long, pectinately arranged in 2-3 rows especially on fertile and upper branches, upcurved to form a wide “V”, white bands beneath; cones 15-20 cm long, violet-purple, bracts hidden or slightly emerging, scales 1-5-2 cm broad. Central Himalayas..
5. A. pseudochensiensis Debreczy: I am trying to procure (any member can help).
Abies spectabilis, the ‘high altitude Himalayan Fir’, commonly known as ‘Kala Tosh’ or ‘Kalonta’, has shorter needles, arranged in whorls.
It naturally occurs at higher elevations than A. pindrow and usually forms the tree line.
Thank you Sir for uploading both Abies species. These always create confusion. Now better understood after these two post by you.
Very good pictures and thanks for sharing your collection. Very few of us have such a good collection. Expecting few more species from you Thanks for the associated information too.
Taking it as Abies pindrow var. brevifolia as per discussions at Abies pseudochensiensis- A conifer tree in the west Himalayas and as per Conifers around the world and Wikipedia (Recent research, however, has shown that Abies gamblei is not related to Abies pindrow. At West Himalayan locations in Himachal state in India visited by members of the Dendrological Atlas team, at around 3000 m the latter species is replaced by Abies gamblei, showing no intermediate forms. Such areas included Churdhar and the upper Sangla Valley at elevations between 3000 and 3400 m where these species have morphologically and ecologically clearly separated. Elevation-wise, pindrow fir occurs between 2,000–3,350 metres (6,560–10,990 ft) (although mostly between 2400 and 3000 m) and Abies gamblei from 3,000–3,500 metres (9,800–11,500 ft). Some references of 3,700 metres (12,100 ft) naming (in error) “Abies spectabilis” in the western Himalayas, most probably are true for Abies gamblei, but to confirm this would require further research)
Here is a Foliage comparison of 2 of 3 native west Himalayan Abies species, i.e. Abies gamblei and Abies pindrow.
Abies gamblei was used to be considered as a subspecies of Abies pindrow by many authors, i.e. Abies pindrow var. brevifolia but now it has been recognized a totally separate species. The morphological and altitude difference is clearly visible in both. You can see the difference in color and length of needles of both the species in the photo.
Abies spectabilis is also present in the same region and is very similar to Abies gamblei. The major difference between Abies gamblei and Abies spectabilis is that Abies spectabilis are more “bicolored” due to the argentea under needles. Both species grow in the same altitude range but A. gamblei prefers drier sites and Abies spectabilis moist.
All three species hybridize freely in their habitat.
In the photo attached:
Abies gamblei is from Chitkul Village (3450m), Himachal Pradesh, India. Date of Photo: 8th June 2016. (Starting altitude for gamblei)
Abies pindrow is from Hatu Peak (3400m), Himachal Pradesh, India. Date of Photo: 4th June 2016. (Topmost altitude for pindrow)
Catalogue of Life The Plant List Ver.1.1 WCSP IPNI
GBIF (High resolution specimens) Conifers around the world MNHN
Wikipedia (Recent research, however, has shown that Abies gamblei is not related to Abies pindrow. At West Himalayan locations in Himachal state in India visited by members of the Dendrological Atlas team, at around 3000 m the latter species is replaced by Abies gamblei, showing no intermediate forms. Such areas included Churdhar and the upper Sangla Valley at elevations between 3000 and 3400 m where these species have morphologically and ecologically clearly separated. Elevation-wise, pindrow fir occurs between 2,000–3,350 metres (6,560–10,990 ft) (although mostly between 2400 and 3000 m) and Abies gamblei from 3,000–3,500 metres (9,800–11,500 ft). Some references of 3,700 metres (12,100 ft) naming (in error) “Abies spectabilis” in the western Himalayas, most probably are true for Abies gamblei, but to confirm this would require further research)