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Abies kawakamii (Hayata) Ito

Formosan Fir

Modern name

Abies kawakamii (Hayata) Ito


A. mariesii var. kawakamii Hayata

A tree of pyramidal shape 50 to 120 ft high in the wild; young shoots very downy; terminal winter buds not resinous. Leaves 13 to 34 in. long, 116 in. wide, rounded and slightly notched at the apex; green on both surfaces, the stomata being only faintly visible beneath. Cones violet-purple, resinous, cylindrical, rounded at the top, 212 to 3 in. long, 112 in. wide, bracts hidden.

Native of Formosa, one of its localities on that island being Mt Morrison at 12,000 ft altitude, another Mt Nitaka at 11,000 ft. Wilson, in a collector’s note made in 1918, describes the tree as up to 120 ft high, with a trunk 18 ft in girth, the bark very pale grey. It appears to be most nearly related to A. mariesii, differing according to Hayata, the leading authority on the flora of Formosa, in having ‘longer cylindrical cones and black seeds and seed-wings’. It appears to be perfectly hardy but is uncommon in gardens. It first coned with the Earl of Rosse at Birr Castle, Eire, where it is now 38 × 434 ft (1966). There are other examples in the Chandlers Ford nursery of Messrs Hillier, at Westonbirt, Glos., and Crarae, Argyll.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

As pointed out, this species is closely allied to the mainland A. mariesii. Apart from the difference in seed colour and cones, it also differs in foliage, the leaves being crowded in a single plane on each side of the shoot, while in A. mariesii the leaves tend to point forward and conceal the shoot.

Among the few specimens of this species are: Coedarhyddglyn, W. Glam., pl. 1946, 41 × 412 ft (1979); Crarae, Argyll, 40 × 4 ft (1976); Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, 42 × 712 ft (top blown out), 46 × 512 ft, 42 × 414 ft (1980); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, a seedling of the tree measured in 1966, which died in 1975, 40 × 4 ft (1985).



Other species in the genus