Abies homolepis Sieb. & Zucc.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw


Common Names

  • Nikko Fir


  • A. brachyphylla Maxim.


(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

A tree 100, occasionally 130 ft high in Japan; young shoots without down, but corrugated with the wrinkled protuberances on which the leaves are seated, the groove between the leaf-bases being deep; buds resinous. Leaves 13 to 118 in. long, about 116 in. wide; slightly notched at the flattish apex, dark bright green above, with two broad, blue-white stomatic bands beneath. The undermost leaves are the longest, and they spread horizontally; above them each succeeding rank becomes smaller and more erect, leaving at last a very narrow, or scarcely perceptible V-shaped opening along the top. Cones 3 to 4 in. long, 114 to 112 in. wide tapered at top and bottom, purple, finally brown; bracts quite enclosed. Bot. Mag., t. 7114.

Native of Japan; introduced about 1870. This is one of the most thriving and handsome of firs, and very hardy. It occasionally bears good crops of its rich purple cones, and is then very beautiful. It is, perhaps, best distinguished by the deeply corrugated branchlets, the grooves in which become deeper the two following years, by the scaly bark of the trunk and the short, notched leaves. A few of the best specimens on record are: Taymouth Castle, Perths., 101 × 1014 ft (1961); Westonbirt, Glos., pl. 1880, 87 × 714 ft (1966); Yester House, E. Lothian, 88 × 834 ft (1955); Grayswood Hill, Surrey, pl. 1882, 82 × 814 and 82 × 712 ft (1964); Bodnant, Denbigh, 87 × 712 ft (1966).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, pl. 1916, 82 × 7 ft (1979); Abbotsbury, Dorset, 102 × 634 ft (1980); Westonbirt, Glos., in Loop Walk, pl. 1880, 85 × 712 ft (1977); Stanage Park, Glos., pl. 1910, 98 × 834 ft (1978); Sidbury Manor, Devon, pl. 1898, 88 × 812 ft (1977); Hergest Croft, Heref., 79 × 834 ft (1977); Tremough, Cornwall, 85 × 1034 ft (1977); Leighton Hall, Powys, 74 × 10 ft (1984); Taymouth Castle, Perths., 111 × 1134 ft (1983); Monteviot, Roxburghs., 98 × 9 ft (1983); Glamis Castle, Angus, in Pinetum, 85 × 1114 ft (1981); Ardross Castle, Ross, in the Garden, 80 × 9 ft (1980); Castlewellan, Co. Down, 70 × 10 ft (1982); Caledon Castle, Co. Armagh, 102 × 634 ft (1980); Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Eire, by River Walk, 88 × 9 ft (1985); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 26 ft high in 1931, 90 × 8 ft (1980).

From New Trees

New Trees

Abies homolepis Siebold & Zucc.

Nikko Fir

This species was described by Bean (B156, S26) and Krüssmann (K36).

A. homolepis f. tomomi (NOW A. homolepis Siebold & Zucc. var. homolepis) K37

var. umbellata (Mayr) E.H. Wilson

Abies homolepis var. umbellata is generally more written about than grown, and is probably of limited horticultural difference to the type. Trees from seed collected by E.H. Wilson (Wilson 4078) are still growing in some collections, including one particularly large specimen at Dawyck, planted in 1924 (an adjacent plaque informs visitors that it was measured at 24.5 m, 71 cm dbh, in 2001). This remains densely clad with branches and foliage, and although a fine tree, is decidedly sombre. There are also some younger specimens in the Scottish botanical gardens from cultivated origins. In the Rogów Arboretum there is a forest plot with 30 specimens, planted in 1959, that are healthy and fully hardy in the continental conditions experienced in Poland (P. Banaszczak, pers. comm. 2007).


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