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Abies pindrow Royle

Modern name

Abies pindrow (Royle ex D.Don) Royle


A. webbiana var. pindrow (Royle) Brandis

A lofty tree with a trunk 6 to 8 ft in diameter; trees in this country of slender pyramidal form; young shoots glabrous, shining, yellowish grey; winter buds globose, very resinous, bluish at the base. Leaves narrowly linear, 112 to 234 in. long, 116 in. to 112 in. wide; divided at the apex into two sharp unequal points; bright green above, and with two faintly defined stomatic bands beneath. The leaves are arranged on all sides of the shoot except underneath, the side ones spreading horizontally, the uppermost ones pointing forward. On young plants the leaves are sharply pointed and not divided at the apex. Cones 412 to 7 in. long, 212 to 3 in. wide, deep purple, then brown; bracts short and completely hidden.

Native of the W. Himalaya as far east as Kumaon. In the wild state it has been found over 200 ft high but in cultivation specimens of over 90 ft are rare. Although coming from a lower elevation than A. spectabilis and considered to be more tender, it has the advantage of starting into growth later, and thus more often escapes spring frosts. It is seen at its best in the milder, moister parts of the country, and is then extremely handsome. It has been associated as a variety with A. spectabilis, although two firs could scarcely be more distinct. The rough, downy shoots of A. spectabilis, its round-ended leaves vividly white beneath, and the more spreading habit, amply distinguish it.

By far the finest specimen recorded is one at Castle Leod, Ross, which measured 117 × 1314 ft in 1966. Others of good size are: Tregrehan, Cornwall, 97 × 812 ft (1965); Monk Coniston, Lancs., 90 × 9 ft (1957); Aldourie, Inv., 90 × 812 ft (1956); Whittingehame, E. Lothian, 88 × 9 ft (1957); Inchmarlo, Kinc., 84 × 1112 ft (1956); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 82 × 512 ft (1961). There are many dead or dying trees in collections, some of them around 80 ft in height.

var. brevifolia Dallim. & A. B. Jacks. A. gamblei Hickel – This variety differs in its reddish-brown, not grey branchlets (in which character it recalls A. spectabilis), and in its shorter leaves (1 to 112 in. long), which are more rigid than in the type and pointed, not notched, at the apex. Such forms have been in cultivation since about 1860 and certainly derive from Himalayan seed. Hickel found a good match for this variety in a specimen collected in Garwhal province and raised the variety to specific status as A. gamblei, but it seems preferable to retain it as a variety until the pattern of variation shown by the two Himalayan firs in a wild state is better understood.

var. intermedia Henry – This variety was described from a tree growing at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire, planted in 1870, which was thought by Henry to show characters intermediate between A. pindrow and A. spectabilis, but to be nearer to the former. Since these two firs overlap in the western Himalaya it is not unlikely that hybrids or intermediates might occur in nature. The actual tree from which Henry received the specimen cannot now be traced. Another intermediate, but nearer to A. spectabilis, was received from Rostrevor by the late Commander F. Gilliland of Brook House, Londonderry, and given an Award of Merit when a branch was shown at Vincent Square in 1944 (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 68, p. 310, and Vol. 69, p. 375). Mr David Gilliland tells us that the tree now measures 40 × 534 ft; it was most attractive when younger and fully furnished but is becoming progressively more ugly with age.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

The eastern limit of this species lies in west Nepal, not in Kumaon, as stated on page 162.

specimens: Kiftsgate, Glos., 70 × 714 ft (1983); Evesleigh, Tiverton, Devon, 85 × 912 ft (1973); Tregrehan, Cornwall, 105 × 834 ft (1979); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 105 × 534 ft (1984); Monk Coniston, Lancs., 111 × 1012 ft (1983); Whittingehame, East Lothian, 95 × 912 ft (1974); Eilean Shona, Argyll, 95 × 812 ft (1978); Cawdor Castle, Nairn, 92 × 612 ft (1980); Inchmarlo, Kinc., 92 × 1234 ft, disbranched to 82 ft (1981); Aldourie, Inv., 92 × 914 ft (1980); Fairburn House, Ross, 105 × 8 ft (1982); Castle Leod, Ross, the tree measured in 1966 was blown down in January 1978; Mount Stewart, Co. Down, 95 × 834 ft (1976); Clandeboye, Co. Down, 79 × 634 ft in 1931, now 88 × 8 ft (1976); Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 70 × 7 ft in 1931, now 98 × 1114 ft (1980).

var. brevifolia – This variety is not recognised by Liu in his monograph. The best example is a superb tree at Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, 72 × 634 ft (1980). A tree at Dawyck, Peebl., measures 84 × 634 ft (1982).

var. intermedia – Neither is this variety recognised by Liu. It is intermediate between A. pindrow and the closely allied A. spectabilis. The two species occupy very much the same geographical area, although A. pindrow occurs generally at lower altitudes and may be the only one to occur on the outer spurs of the Himalaya. But it would be surprising if hybrids or intermediates did not arise where the two firs are in contact.



Other species in the genus