A tree to 130 ft with a smooth, whitish bark; buds resinous; young shoots furrowed, greyish, hairy in the grooves. Leaves arranged as in A. veitchii but longer and narrower, 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄20 in. wide, bright green above, with two bands of stomata below, each with seven or eight lines. Cones cylindrical, to 31⁄2 in. long, with protruding, reflexed bracts.
Native of the northern island of Japan (Hokkaido), Sakhalin, and the Kuriles, allied to A. sibirica and A. nephrolepis. It was introduced in 1878 and, in spite of its being much subject to injury by late frosts, has grown well in some collections. The best recorded are: Dyffryn Park, Glam., 75 ft (1964); Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 74 × 43⁄4 ft (1965); Murthly Castle, Perths., 57 × 33⁄4 ft (1962); Stourhead, Wilts, 57 × 3 ft (1965); Borde Hill, Sussex, 50 × 13⁄4 ft (1957); Castle Milk, Dumf., pl. 1921, 50 × 4 ft (1966).
It is most likely to be confused with A. nephrolepis and A. sibirica, which it closely resembles in foliage but from which it differs in its grooved branchlets and in the exserted cone-bracts.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
This fir is more closely related to A. nephrolepis than to A. sibirica. Contrary to what was stated on page 167, the cones of both species may have exserted bracts. The difference in the cones, according to Liu, is that in A. sachalinesis the scales overlap closely, while in A. nephrolepis the arrangement is more open, the apex of each scale being separated by more than 2 millimeters from the apex of the next scale in the same rank (against 2 mm or less in the other species). Its leaves are also narrower – about 1.5 mm wide against about 2 mm in A. nephrolepis.
As remarked in the later printings of Volume I, the trees at Wakehurst Place and at Stourhead are not this species but A. nephrolepis, while the Dyffryn tree, also mentioned under A. sachalinensis, is in fact A. nordmanniana.
Trees of which the identity is reasonably certain are: Borde Hill, Sussex, in Gores Wood, 40 × 1[1/2] ft (1981); Hergest Croft, Heref., 42 × 2[1/4] ft and 52 × 4 ft (1978); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1927, 40 × 3 ft (1982); Glentanar, Aberd., pl. 1926, 49 × 2[3/4] ft (1980); Murthly Castle, Perths., the trees here have all been blown down.
In Eire there is a good tree at Headfort, Co. Meath, pl. 1928, 66 × 5[1/4] ft (1980), and another in the National Botanic Garden, Glasnevin, 62 × 2[3/4] ft (1980).