Herbs & Plants

Himalayan Fir (Abies spectabilis)

Botanical Name: Abies spectabilis – (D.Don.)Spach.
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Abies
Species: A. spectabilis
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Common names: East Himalayan fir (Vidakovic 1991).

Taxonomic notes:
Syn: Pinus spectabilis D. Don 1825; Pinus webbiana Wall ex D. Don in Lambert 1828; A. webbiana (Wall ex D. Don) Lindl. 1833; Picea webbiana (Wall ex D. Don) Loudon 1838 (Farjon 1998); A. chiloensis Hort.; A. chilrowensis Hort.; A. densa Griff. (Vidakovic 1991). Silba (1986) describes a variety densa, while Vidakovic (1991) describes a variety brevifolia.

“This species hybridizes freely with A. pindrow forming intermediate populations in the altitudinal middle zone of their common distribution” (Vidakovic 1991).

*Pinus spectabilis D.Don
*Pinus webbiana Wall. ex D.Don
*Picea webbiana Loudon ex D.Don
*Abies webbiana Wall. ex D.Don
*Abies chiloensis Hort.
*Abies chilrowensis Hort.
*Abies densa Griff.

Habitat :-Himalayan Fir   is native to E. Asia –  Himalayas from Afghanistan to Nepal.  Hindu Kush; Tibet; India: Karakoram & Kashmir Himalaya; Nepal (Farjon 1998); Sikkim and Bhutan at 2500-4000 m (Vidakovic 1991).   It grows in the forests in Nepal between 2700 – 3900 metres. Moist open areas.
It commonly occurs as a canopy dominant species in very wet forest, accompanied by species of Rhododendron including R. companuletum, R. lepedetum, and R. anthapogen, as well as Betula utilis .

An evergreen tree attaining in the E. Himalaya a height of 60 m. Crown broadly conical grows at a slow rate.
” Branches horizontally spreading. Bark dark gray, rough and scaly. Shoots red-brown, deeply grooved, pubescent in the grooves. Buds large, globose, resinous. Needles on the upper side of the shoot arranged in several ranks, leaving a V-shaped depression between them, 2-6 cm long, with emarginate apex; upper surface dark green and glossy, with 2 broad stomata bands beneath. Cones cylindrical, 14-20 cm long and about 7 cm thick, violet-purple when young, later brown; seed scales 1.5-2 cm wide; bract scales concealed” (Vidakovic 1991).

(See Wu and Raven 1999 ) for a more recent and detailed description.

It is hardy to zone 7 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.


Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Prefers slightly acid conditions down to a pH of about 5. Prefers growing on a north-facing slope. This species is unsatisfactory in south-eastern Britain due to damage by late frosts, trees rarely live more than 40 years and have a poor thin crown. Trees grow far better in the milder and moister western side of the country. Young trees are very slow to establish because they are often damaged by late frosts, it is best to grow the young trees in high shade to get them through this time[1, 185]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus.

Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position

Medicinal Action &  Uses:-

Antiperiodic; Astringent; Carminative; Expectorant; Stomachic; Tonic.

The leaves are astringent, carminative, expectorant, stomachic and tonic. The leaf juice used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis etc. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used to treat colds, rheumatism and nasal congestion. The leaf juice is antiperiodic.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:-
Essential; Fuel; Incense; Wood.

An essential oil is obtained from the plant, though the report does not give yields or uses. The dried leaves, mixed with other ingredients, are used in making incense. The wood is used for construction and thatching roofs. It is also used for fuel.

Scented Plants:-
Leaves: Crushed
The bruised leaves are aromatic.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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