This species seems to be represented in the British Isles almost wholly by the following variety:
var. hondoensis (Mayr) Rehd. P. hondoensis Mayr; Abies alcocquiana Veitch ex Lindl., in part. – A tree up to 90 ft high in the wild, with a greyish scaly bark; young shoots yellowish, glabrous, becoming reddish brown in the second year; buds shining, resinous, broadly conical-ovoid. Leaves flattened, confined to the upper side of the shoots, the lower ones pectinately arranged, mostly 3⁄8 to 5⁄8 in. long, obtuse and bevelled at the apex, dark green and without stomata at the apex, the ventral surface blue-white, almost covered with stomatic lines, but the two bands separated by the green midrib. Cones cylindric, 2 to 3 in. long, about 1 in. wide, crimson when young; scales narrowly oblong, with jaggedly toothed margins. Bot. Mag., t. 6743.
Native of the main island of Japan (Honshu, formerly Hondo); introduced by J. G. Veitch from Mt Fuji in 1861. As noted under P. bicolor, the cones of these two species were mixed by Veitch’s collectors, with the result that both were at first grown under the name Abies alcocquiana. In clearing up the confusion in 1880, Masters adopted for it the name P. ajanensis Fisch., by which it was generally known until well into the present century (see further below). At the present time it is usually known as P. jezoensis simply, and not incorrectly, since it is debatable whether it is really distinct enough from typical P. jezoensis to merit distinction even as a variety. The main differences would appear to be that in the var. hondoensis the leaves are somewhat shorter than in the typical state, never mucronate at the apex, and that the shoots turn brown in their second year, whereas in typical P. jezoensis they remain yellowish.
The Honshu spruce grows well in Britain and is represented in most collections. Details of over forty specimens will be found in A. F. Mitchell’s Conifers in Great Britain, of which the following is a selection: Eridge Castle, Kent, pl. 1877, 75 × 10 ft (1971); Leonardslee, Sussex, pl. c. 1905, 85 × 8 ft (1969); Tregrehan, Cornwall, 100 × 8 ft (1971); Benmore, Argyll, pl. 1880, 80 × 103⁄4 ft (1970).
Typical P. jezoensis is of wide distribution in N.E. Asia, from the northern island of Japan (Hokkaido, formerly Yezo), to Sakhalin and the S. Kuriles, and on the mainland from Korea and Manchuria through the mountains of the Russian Far East as far north as about 58° N. It was originally described from specimens of a tree growing in a garden near Tokyo, said to have come from the northern island; the synonymous name P. ajanensis is founded on a specimen collected near Ayan on the Sea of Othotsk. J. G. Veitch introduced this species from near Hakodate, the port of Hokkaido, in 1861 and Maries, the Veitchian collector, sent seeds again eighteen years later, but the first introduction was a failure, and the second, which probably came from the same area, is unlikely to have been any more successful. A third introduction was by Wilson from Korea in 1917, but whether any trees were raised from the seeds sent to Britain is not known. All the thriving trees of P. jezoensis in this country appear to be of the Honshu provenance, i.e., the var. hondoensis.