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Abies numidica Carr.

Algerian Fir

Modern name

Abies numidica de Lannoy ex Carrière

A tree said to be 70 ft high in the wild state but already taller in cultivation; buds not, or very slightly, resinous; young shoots shining brown, glabrous. Leaves arranged all round the shoot, but with those underneath mostly brought upwards into a horizontal position; on strong shoots the leaves on the upper side are erect or pointed backwards, but on weaker shoots there is a V-shaped opening formed by the separation of the leaves into two sets. Leaves 12 to 34 in. long, 112 in. wide; rounded, or notched, or somewhat pointed at the apex; dark glossy green above, often with a grey patch near the apex made up of a few broken lines of stomata; lower surface with a conspicuous grey band of stomata each side of the midrib. Cones 5 to 7 in. long, 112 to 134 in. wide, cylindrical, brown.

Native of Mt Babor in Algeria, where it grows in association with Cedrus atlantica; discovered in 1861, and soon afterwards introduced. Vigorous plants are very distinct in the grey patch of stomata on the upper side of the leaf and in the dense array of thick, round-ended, or notched leaves all over the upper side of the shoot, the middle ones of which often point backwards. On weak shoots these characters are not so marked.

It is a handsome fir, and like its allies A. pinsapo and cephalonica grows well in the south and south-east and does not object to lime in the soil. The tallest on record are: Bicton, Devon, 95 × 914 ft (1959); Westonbirt, Glos., pl. 1910, 83 × 534 ft; another, pl. 1929, is 42 × 334 ft (1966); Borde Hill, Sussex, pl. 1907, 80 × 734 ft (1961); Necton Park, Norfolk, 75 × 7 ft (1952); Eridge Park, Kent, pl. 1892, 68 × 5 ft (1963); Pampisford, Cambs., 67 × 714 ft (1959).

A. pardei Gaussen – Trees growing in the Arboretum Les Barres, France, originally identified as A. numidica, have been described as A. pardei. Gaussen considered them to be near to A. alba and suggested that they might represent a form of that species found wild in Calabria. Other views are that they are A. pinsapo × numidica, or a form of A. × insignis (q.v. under A. nordmanniana). The origin of the trees is unknown.

A tree at Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, is illustrated in Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 272, as ‘A. pinsapo var. vel hybrida’. It shows a mixture of the characters of A. pinsapo and A. numidica, recalling the latter in the arrangement of its leaves. It was bought of Veitch in 1912 and is 43 ft high (1966).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, pl. 1925, 60 × 534 ft (1982); Wakehurst Place, Sussex, pl. 1911, 62 × 612 ft and 85 × 734 ft (1979); Borde Hill, Sussex, pl. 1907, 90 × 834 ft (1981); Westonbirt, Glos., pl. 1910, 92 × 614 ft (1975), pl. 1925, 58 × 534 ft (1980), pl. 1929, 52 × 414 ft (1980); Cowarne Court, Heref., 68 × 912 ft (1976); Hardwicke, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, 100 × 914 ft (1974); Bodnant, Gwyn., pl. 1902, 75 × 7 ft (1981); Leighton Hall, Powys, 79 × 734 ft (1984); Inveraray Castle, Argyll, Lime Kilns, 85 × 10 ft (1982); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1919, 82 × 7 ft (1982); Glamis Castle, Angus, 95 × 614 ft (1981); Ardross Castle, Ross, in Pinetum, pl. 1900, 75 × 10 ft and 79 × 914 ft, and a third tree, pl. 1914, 80 × 1034 ft (1980); Castlewellan, Co. Down, 44 × 512 ft in 1931, now 70 × 1034 ft (1976); National Botanic Garden, Glasnevin, Eire, 58 × 7 ft in 1931, now 80 × 914 ft (1980); Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, pl. 1914, 80 × 1034 ft (1980); Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Eire, 80 × 934 ft (1985).

In the third paragraph on page 162, A. cephalonica was referred to as an ally of A. numidica and A. pinsapo. However, in Liu’s classification, A. cephalonica is grouped with A. alba and A. nordmanniana in section Abies, these having cones with exserted bract-scales, while A. numidica is placed with A. pinsapo and A. cilicica in the section Piceaster, these three species having cones with concealed bract-scales.



Other species in the genus