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A lofty tree with a trunk 6 to 8 ft in diameter; trees in this country of slender pyramidal form; young shoots glabrous, shining, yellowish grey; winter buds globose, very resinous, bluish at the base. Leaves narrowly linear, 11⁄2 to 23⁄4 in. long, 1⁄16 in. to 1⁄12 in. wide; divided at the apex into two sharp unequal points; bright green above, and with two faintly defined stomatic bands beneath. The leaves are arranged on all sides of the shoot except underneath, the side ones spreading horizontally, the uppermost ones pointing forward. On young plants the leaves are sharply pointed and not divided at the apex. Cones 41⁄2 to 7 in. long, 21⁄2 to 3 in. wide, deep purple, then brown; bracts short and completely hidden.
Native of the W. Himalaya as far east as Kumaon. In the wild state it has been found over 200 ft high but in cultivation specimens of over 90 ft are rare. Although coming from a lower elevation than A. spectabilis and considered to be more tender, it has the advantage of starting into growth later, and thus more often escapes spring frosts. It is seen at its best in the milder, moister parts of the country, and is then extremely handsome. It has been associated as a variety with A. spectabilis, although two firs could scarcely be more distinct. The rough, downy shoots of A. spectabilis, its round-ended leaves vividly white beneath, and the more spreading habit, amply distinguish it.
By far the finest specimen recorded is one at Castle Leod, Ross, which measured 117 × 131⁄4 ft in 1966. Others of good size are: Tregrehan, Cornwall, 97 × 81⁄2 ft (1965); Monk Coniston, Lancs., 90 × 9 ft (1957); Aldourie, Inv., 90 × 81⁄2 ft (1956); Whittingehame, E. Lothian, 88 × 9 ft (1957); Inchmarlo, Kinc., 84 × 111⁄2 ft (1956); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 82 × 51⁄2 ft (1961). There are many dead or dying trees in collections, some of them around 80 ft in height.
The eastern limit of this species lies in west Nepal, not in Kumaon, as stated on page 162.
specimens: Kiftsgate, Glos., 70 × 71⁄4 ft (1983); Evesleigh, Tiverton, Devon, 85 × 91⁄2 ft (1973); Tregrehan, Cornwall, 105 × 83⁄4 ft (1979); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 105 × 53⁄4 ft (1984); Monk Coniston, Lancs., 111 × 101⁄2 ft (1983); Whittingehame, East Lothian, 95 × 91⁄2 ft (1974); Eilean Shona, Argyll, 95 × 81⁄2 ft (1978); Cawdor Castle, Nairn, 92 × 61⁄2 ft (1980); Inchmarlo, Kinc., 92 × 123⁄4 ft, disbranched to 82 ft (1981); Aldourie, Inv., 92 × 91⁄4 ft (1980); Fairburn House, Ross, 105 × 8 ft (1982); Castle Leod, Ross, the tree measured in 1966 was blown down in January 1978; Mount Stewart, Co. Down, 95 × 83⁄4 ft (1976); Clandeboye, Co. Down, 79 × 63⁄4 ft in 1931, now 88 × 8 ft (1976); Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 70 × 7 ft in 1931, now 98 × 111⁄4 ft (1980).
var. brevifolia – This variety is not recognised by Liu in his monograph. The best example is a superb tree at Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, 72 × 63⁄4 ft (1980). A tree at Dawyck, Peebl., measures 84 × 63⁄4 ft (1982).
var. intermedia – Neither is this variety recognised by Liu. It is intermediate between A. pindrow and the closely allied A. spectabilis. The two species occupy very much the same geographical area, although A. pindrow occurs generally at lower altitudes and may be the only one to occur on the outer spurs of the Himalaya. But it would be surprising if hybrids or intermediates did not arise where the two firs are in contact.
A. gamblei Hickel