An evergreen tree 60 to 120 ft high, with a trunk girthing 7 to 16 ft; terminal buds roundish, very resinous; young shoots covered with brownish down. Branches six or more years old become shaggy through the peeling off of the purplish-brown bark in thin papery layers, as occurs in several birches. Leaves 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, blunt or abruptly pointed, varying (according to Wilson) in the amount of glaucous colouring; stomatic lines eight or nine each side of the midrib and usually forming two whitish bands beneath. Cones violet-coloured, resinous, 2 to 21⁄2 in. long, between cylindrical and egg-shaped; bracts showing only the recurved, pointed tips.
Native of W. Szechwan, China, 'in the wild country west of Tatien-lu', where it forms entire forests at between 12,000 and 14,000 ft altitude; discovered by Wilson in 1904, introduced by him in 1910. The most distinctive character of this silver fir is its peeling bark. It is very rare in cultivation, the only examples known being: Hergest Croft, Heref., pl. 1921, 44 × 23⁄4 ft and another slightly smaller (1961); Bicton, Devon, pl. 1920, 32 × 21⁄4 ft (1965); Stanage Park, Radnor, 34 × 13⁄4 ft (1950); Ripley Castle, Yorks., 34 × 23⁄4 ft (1958); Chandlers Ford nursery of Messrs Hillier, 27 × 11⁄2 ft (1961); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1931, 27 × 13⁄4 ft (1966); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, 37 × 31⁄4 ft (1966).
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
This, like A. fargesii and A. recurvata, belongs to the same group as A. delavayi. It is an alpine fir, with its main distribution in west Szechwan, but extending into north-east Yunnan and in the north into Kansu.
specimens: Hergest Croft, Heref., pl. 1921, 46 × 21⁄2 ft (1978); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1931, 40 × 3 ft (1983); Durris House, Kinc., 41 × 3 ft (1970); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, pl. 1930, 48 × 33⁄4 ft (1980).
Of the other trees mentioned on page 168, the Bicton specimen is dead and the Stanage Park tree can no longer be traced. The source of the grafted trees sent out by Messrs Hillier in the 1930s was a tree that grew in the Chandlers Ford nursery, now built over.