Abies densa 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Abies densa Griff.
Common Name(s):
English Sikkim Fir
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: This species has been included with A. spectabilis (Liu 1971, Cheng and Fu, 1978, Sahni [in part] 1990), but it is distinct both morphologically and geographically. It has somewhat smaller cones with slightly exserting bracts and leaves with slightly revolute margins, which are arranged more radially around the shoots, especially on coning branches. In these characters it is intermediate between A. spectabilis and A. delavayi, the latter a species occurring from NE India to Yunnan, China, and also disjunct in N Viet Nam. Rushforth (2009) described a new species, A. fordei, from S Xizang [Tibet] occurring on the northern side of the Himalayan crest in the Yarlung Zangbo drainage. Apart from its flat, not revolute, leaf margins, it is similar to A. densa and is here treated as synonymous. It thus appears that at high elevation in the Himalaya, we find from west to east, with partly overlapping distributions, first A. spectabilis, then A. densa, and finally A. delavayi, which extends into the adjacent mountains of western China and as far as Viet Nam.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-12-13
Assessor(s): Zhang, D, Christian, T., Carter, G., Farjon, A., Liao, W. & Yang, Y.
Reviewer(s): Luscombe, D & Thomas, P.
Abies densa is a widely distributed species, which, although the extent of occurrence may approach 20,000 km2, is not under any threat, hence it is listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Recorded from the eastern Himalaya: from E Nepal eastwards to the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra. The full extent of the range is not known.
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; China (Tibet [or Xizang]); India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Darjiling, Sikkim); Nepal
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):2450
Upper elevation limit (metres):4000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:A widespread and a common species, dominant in parts of its range.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Occurs in the high mountains of the eastern Himalayas, from 2,450 m to 4,000 m a.s.l., on rocky, often steep slopes in the cloud belt, where it grows on a variety of alpine lithosols. The climate is extremely wet, with well marked monsoons and an annual precipitation of more than 2,000 mm. The summers are relatively warm, the winters are cold at high altitudes and bring heavy snowfall. The species occurs in a wide altitudinal range from mixed deciduous coniferous forest at lower elevations to stands with Betula utilis at tree line. Deciduous trees are e.g. Acer caudatum, A. pectinatum, Prunus spp., Sorbus spp. and many large Rhododendron spp. Most of these disappear above 3,000 m to make place for conifers. Picea spinulosa and Tsuga dumosa occur generally in a belt below Abies; Larix griffithiana and/or Juniperus squamata above it, the latter at tree line.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):30

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Sikkim Fir is a timber tree of importance in the eastern Himalayas, where it is used in construction (house building), in particular for interior work such as floor boards, ceilings and stairs, while shingles are used for roofing. This species has been introduced in Europe only relatively recently from Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim. It is still uncommon in gardens and parks but has more attractive characters than A. spectabilis, with very white leaf undersides and deep purplish blue, nearly black seed cones. It undoubtedly requires ample precipitation, judging from its natural habitat.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species across its range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in several protected areas within its range, but the greater part of its distribution falls outside such reserves.

Citation: Zhang, D, Christian, T., Carter, G., Farjon, A., Liao, W. & Yang, Y. 2013. Abies densa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T42278A2969131. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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