Abies spectabilis (D.Don) Mirb., Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. 13: 70 1825. (Syn: Abies brevifolia (A.Henry) Dallim.; Abies chilrowensis Parl.; Abies spectabilis (D. Don) Spach; Abies spectabilis var. brevifolia (A.Henry) Rehder; Abies spectabilis subsp. langtangensis (Silba) Silba; Abies spectabilis var. langtangensis Silba; Abies webbiana (Wall. ex D.Don) Lindl.; Abies webbiana var. brevifolia A.Henry; Picea naphta Knight; Picea webbiana (Wall. ex D.Don) Loudon; Pinus spectabilis D.Don; Pinus striata Buch.-Ham. ex Gord. [Invalid]; Pinus tinctoria Wall. ex D.Don; Pinus webbiana Wall. ex D.Don);
N. Afghanistan to C. Himalaya as per WCSP;
Afghanistan: Hindu Kush; Pakistan: Karakoram Range; China: W Xizang [Tibet];
India: Kashmir Himalaya; Nepal as per Catalogue of Life;
Common name: Himalayan Silver Fir, East Himalayan Fir • Hindi: Talispatra, Talispatri, Tapis patra, Kanda morinda,
• Malayalam: talisapatram • Sanskrit: talisam, talisapatra, talisapatram • Tamil: talisapatri • Telugu:
Trees to 50 m tall; trunk to more than 1.5 m d.b.h.; bark rough, scaly; branchlets yellowish gray, brown, or reddish brown, furrowed, pubescent or glabrous, densely leafy; winter buds globose or ovoid, resinous. Leaves ascending on upper side of cone-bearing branchlets, pectinately arranged in 2 lateral sets on young and vegetative branchlets, bright green adaxially, linear, 2-6 cm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, stomatal lines in 2 white bands abaxially, resin canals 2, marginal, apex emarginate or 2-cleft. Seed cones dark purple, maturing to dark brown or blue-brown with a little purple, cylindric, 8.5-20 cm long, 4.5-7.5 cm wide. Seed scales at middle of cones flabellate-trapeziform, 2.3-2.8 cm long, 2.8-3.4 cm wide, margin auriculate and thin laterally. Bracts included, spatulate, 1/3-1/2 as long as seed scales, apex with an acute, short cusp. Seeds ca. 1 cm; wing broadly cuneate, longer than seeds, apex truncate.
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun
(From plantsoftibet on 17.12.13)
This species is found in Afghanistan (Hindu Kush), Pakistan (Karakoram Range), China (W Xizang [Tibet]), India (Kashmir Himalaya) and Nepal ( from the Milke Danda ridge westwards).
Native: Afghanistan; China (Tibet [or Xizang]); India (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh); Nepal; Pakistan
Abies spectabilis is the dominant tree in the forests of the central and western Himalaya, especially from c. 3,000 m to 4,000 m, with occasional occurrences on ridges below this height. It needs cool moist conditions at the roots, thus growing better on north facing slopes and often giving way to grass or shrubs on south facing ones.
The forest has suffered severe depletion, especially at the lower elevations, from logging and deforestation. The species is reported to have been lost from the easternmost occurrence in East Nepal in the past 20 years. Deforestation and conversion of land to agriculture is the largest threat, but logging, if followed either by fire or grazing can also lead to the loss of habitat for the species.
(From IUCN Red List (NT) –
The leaves are astringent, carminative, expectorant, stomachic and tonic. The leaf juice used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis etc[240, 243, 272]. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used to treat colds, rheumatism and nasal congestion. The leaf juice is antiperiodic[240, 243].
An essential oil is obtained from the plant, though the report does not give yields or uses. The dried leaves, mixed with other ingredients, are used in making incense. The wood is used for construction and thatching roofs. It is also used for fuel.
(From PFAF on 17.12.13)
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).