Abies squamata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Abies squamata
Species Authority: Mast.
Common Name(s):
English Flaky Fir

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-12-13
Assessor(s): Farjon, A., Li, J.-y., Li, N., Li, Y., Carter, G., Katsuki, T., Liao, W., Luscombe, D, Qin, H.-n., Rao, L.-b., Rushforth, K., Yang, Y., Yu, S., Xiang, Q. & Zhang, D
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Christian, T.
This species was exploited in the past for its timber and it is estimated that there has been at least a 30% population reduction in the past three generations (150 years). It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
1998 Vulnerable (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Vulnerable
1997 Vulnerable (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recorded from S Gansu, S Qinghai (Baima Xian), W Sichuan, and E Xizang [Tibet] (Markam Xian) in China.
China (Gansu - Present - Origin Uncertain, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang])
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is widespread and common where it occurs – the trees form forests.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A subalpine species of the high mountains of western China, where it occurs between 3,500 m and 4,500 m asl [3,000-4,700 m according to Liu (1971)] making it one of the highest reaching mountain trees in the world. The soils are commonly grey-brown mountain podzols or lithosols. The climate is cold, relatively dry (arid in E Xizang), but usually perpetual snow at higher elevations provides sufficient moisture throughout the year. It is a constituent of mixed coniferous high altitude forests, with among other species Abies recurvata, A. fargesii var. faxoniana, Picea likiangensis var. rubescens, P. asperata, P. linzhiensis (in E Xizang), Larix potaninii and possibly also Tsuga forrestii. There are very few broad-leaved trees at these high elevations, Betula albosinensis and B. utilis var. prattii being the most common.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Flaky Fir is a potential timber tree but its occurrence at extremely high altitudes in inaccessible places prevents it from being exploited commercially. Ernest Wilson collected this fir with its peculiar bark in June 1904 in the Daxue Shan of western Sichuan, China, when on a plant hunting expedition for Veitch & Sons in England. Although it was successfully introduced in Europe and North America, it has remained rare in cultivation, restricted to a few collections in botanic gardens and arboreta, where it tends to be a slow grower. Its unusual bark has an attraction to dendrologists, but unless renewed seed collecting from wild sources can be resumed, this species may gradually disappear from horticulture.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): At these high altitudes forests form isolated patches on favourable sites, surrounded by treeless subalpine vegetation. Direct exploitation of the timber in these forest remnants is easily unsustainable due to very slow growth and past exploitation has led to a decline of this and other conifer tree species in these forests.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Government of China has recently imposed a logging ban in western China.

Citation: Farjon, A., Li, J.-y., Li, N., Li, Y., Carter, G., Katsuki, T., Liao, W., Luscombe, D, Qin, H.-n., Rao, L.-b., Rushforth, K., Yang, Y., Yu, S., Xiang, Q. & Zhang, D 2011. Abies squamata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 29 March 2015.
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