Abies spectabilis used to include Abies densa Griff. In the past, but this is now treated as a distinct species here.
This species is closely related to Abies pindrow, and may be no more than a high altitude form of that species[
Abies brevifolia (A.Henry) Dallim.
Abies chilrowensis Parl.
Abies webbiana (Wall. ex D.Don) Lindl.
Abies webbiana brevifolia A.Henry
Picea naphta Knight
Picea webbiana (Wall. ex D.Don) Loudon
Pinus spectabilis D.Don
Pinus striata Buch.-Ham. ex Gordon
Pinus tinctoria Wall. ex D.Don
Pinus webbiana Wall. ex D.Don
Common Name: Himalayan Fir
Cultivated tree at Bowood Arboretum
Photograph by: Wendy Cutler
Abies spectabilis is an evergreen tree with a narrow, conical crown; it can grow up to 45 metres tall. The straight, cylindrical bole can be 200cm or more in diameter[
The tree is harvested from the wild for mainly local use as a source of medicines and materials. It is a commonly used medicinal herb in India, where it is gathered in large quantities from the wild for local use and for trade[
This species has a wide distribution from East Nepal into eastern Afghanistan and is usually the dominant tree in the stands, but may also occur with other conifers or broadleafed trees. The forest has suffered severe depletion, especially at the lower elevations, from logging and deforestation. A population decline of approximately 25% over the past three generation has occurred. The plant is classified as 'Near Threatened' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
E. Asia - Himalayas from Afghanistan, through Pakistan to Nepal and western China.
Montane forests, where it is usually the dominant species, favouring the cooler soils of north-facing slopes; at elevations from 2,700 - 3,900 metres[
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Abies spectabilis is a plant of the montane zone in the western Himalayas where it is found mainly at elevations from 3,000 - 4,000 metres. The climate is cool, moist monsoon with abundant precipitation, much of it falling as snow[
]. Although very hardy when dormant, the plant can be excited into early growth in milder areas and then the young shoots are susceptible to damage from late frosts[
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade[
]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[
]. Prefers slightly acid conditions down to a pH of about 5[
]. Prefers growing on a north-facing slope[
Young trees are very slow to establish because they are often damaged by late frosts, it is best to grow the young trees in high shade to get them through this time[
Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[
Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[
]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[
The leaves are astringent, carminative, expectorant, stomachic and tonic[
The leaf juice is antiperiodic[
]. The leaf juice used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis etc[
An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used to treat colds, rheumatism and nasal congestion[
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[
An essential oil obtained from the leaves and branches is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a masking agent and skin conditioner[
The wood is used for construction and to provide shingles for roofs[
]. A useful timber, it can be available in large sizes[
The wood is used for fuel[
Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse or outdoors in early spring[
]. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 - 8 weeks[
]. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[
]. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre[
] whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position[