Abies delavayi (Van Tiegh.) Franch. 1899

Common Names

Delavay fir; Cangshan lengshan [Chinese] (2).

Taxonomic notes

A. delavayi was formerly something of a catch-all term for Chinese firs. A. beshanzuensis Wu, A. ziyuanensis Fu et Mo and A. fabri (Masters) Craib have been placed in synonymy by some authors but are here treated as distinct species. A. delavayi var. smithii is a synonym for what are here treated as two species, A. forrestii and A. ferreana. A. delavayi var. georgei is a synonym for what is here treated as A. forrestii var. georgei and has also been called A. georgei. This suite of fir species are now for the most part allied with A. delavayi in Section Delavayi (2).

There are two varieties, motuoensis Cheng et Fu 1975 and nukiangensis (Cheng et Fu) Farjon 1990 [syn: A. nukiangensis Cheng et Fu], described below under 'Remarks.'


See (2).


India, Burma, China and Tibet at 2400 to 4000m. In India it is only known from a pure stand atop Piri Mountain, Balipara Frontier Tract. In Burma it occurs in the north, and its Chinese/Tibetan distribution is wide through the moist mountain forests of the Four Rivers country at 3000-4300 m. It thus includes W Yunnan and SE Xizang/Tibet around the Lancang-Nukiang (Mekong-Salween) Divide. The climate is very wet (precipitation 1000-3000 mm), with cool summers and cold winters (snow on the ground from October to April). Soils are grey-brown mountain podzols. It is found on north-facing slopes forming pure (near treeline) or mixed stands with conifers such as Picea likiangensis and P. brachytyla var. brachytyla. At lower elevations it is sometimes mixed with Tsuga chinensis, T. dumosa, Juniperus formosana and broad-leaved trees such as Betula albosinensis, Betula platyphylla var. szechuanica and Quercus semicarpifolia (1,2,3).

Big Tree

Height to 40 m and dbh to 150 cm (3).






Named for its discoverer, Father I.M. Delavay who collected it at 3500-4000 m on Cangshan near Dali in Yunnan, April 1887 (3).

Listed (as Abies nukiangensis) as threatened in Viet Nam by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Abies delavayi var. motuoensis Cheng et Fu differs from the type in having paler, densely ferruginous pubescent young shoots and longer (?) leaves (2-3.2 cm) that are less densely arranged. It has been found in SE Xizang (Tibet) at elevations of 3000-3800 m (2).

Abies delavayi var. nukiangensis (Cheng et Fu) Farjon 1990 has "longer (but variable: 1.2-4.3 cm) and broader (1.5-2.8 mm) leaves, which ... are less revolute. The shoot is purplish-brown and glabrous. The cone is purplish-blue and has the same apically thickened, obtriangular-flabellate seed scales, but included bract scales with a short cusp, which may be barely visible in the lower part of the mature cone. These minor differences do not justify treatment of this material as a species, but deserve recognition as a variety (of lower elevations: 2500-3100 m)" (2).


(1) Silba 1986.
(2) Farjon 1990.
(3) Liu 1971.

See also: Cheng and Fu. 1975. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 13 (4): 83 (cited in (4)).

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This page is from the Gymnosperm Database
URL: http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/2285/pi/ab/delavayi.htm
Edited by Christopher J. Earle
Last modified on 18-Jan-1999