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Tree to 30 m, 0.6 m dbh. Bark brown-grey, smooth then flaking in young trees, becoming grey, rough and scaly with papery flakes in older trees. Crown conical or columnar when growing in dense forest. Branchlets slender or thick, firm, pale yellow to light brown, glabrous or pubescent, pulvini well developed, slightly darker than the shoot; vegetative buds resinous. Leaves spreading forwards, glaucous- or bluish green, transversely rhombic in cross-section, (0.8–)1.3–2.5(–3) × 0.2 cm, apex acute. Male strobili 2–2.5 cm long, reddish yellow. Cones terminal, short-pedunculate or sessile, oval-oblong to cylindrical, (6–)7–10(–12) × 2.5–3.5(–4) cm, purplish red initially, reddish brown to grey-brown when mature. Seed scales obovate, 1.5–2 × 1–1.6 cm, upper margins rounded, entire or sometimes denticulate. Seeds brown or blackish brown, ovoid-oblong, 0.3–0.4 × 0.15–0.25 cm, wings yellowish brown or reddish brown, obovate-oblong, 1–1.5 × 0.5–0.65 cm. Farjon 1990, Fu et al. 1999c. Distribution CHINA: Hebei, Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shanxi. Habitat Montane or subalpine forests, often on north-facing slopes, between 1600 and 2700 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Farjon 1990; NT577. Cross-reference K196.
As part of the Picea asperata complex P. meyeri has been rather confused with other related species, in the wild and in cultivation, but is now more clearly understood. The type specimen was collected by Frank Meyer in Shanxi in 1908, and later collections were made by William Purdom and Joseph Hers (credited by Rushforth with its introduction to cultivation) (Sargent 1916, Rushforth 1987a). The Scottish botanical gardens have trees attributed to Wilson (no collection number given: Govier et al. 2001), but he did not collect the species. In consequence of these early introductions there are mature trees of P. meyeri in arboreta on both sides of the Atlantic, although they are scarce. The largest recorded by TROBI was 19.5 m at Glen Tanar House, Aberdeen when measured by Alan Mitchell in 1980. At Bedgebury the largest was 13 m (44 cm dbh) in 1999 (Johnson 2003). Younger trees are found scattered through our area and are often very attractive, forming broad-based conical trees densely clad in foliage. This varies somewhat, from strongly glaucous (especially in new shoots) to dull green, but most trees appear grey rather than glaucous once the new growth has matured. Specimens seen in the United Kingdom include a fine young tree at Dawyck grown from a seed lot from the Chinese Academy of Forestry received in 1987, standing 5 m tall in 2006, and another of 4.5 m at Thenford House. It also seems capable of toler-ating much hotter conditions, as demonstrated by a good 2.5 m specimen at the JC Raulston Arboretum, and it flourishes at the Hørsholm Arboretum in Denmark (Forest & Landscape 2007). New stock came into the United States in the form of material collected (without a number) by a Morton Arboretum expedition to Shanxi in 1990, whose team found it growing in upland forest with Larix, Populus and Betula species. A tree from this collection at the Morton Arboretum is healthy and vigorous, and was 1.8 m tall in 2007 (K. Kim, pers. comm. 2007).