Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Abies Pinsapo

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Abies pinsapo detail (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Abies pinsapo detail (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Position: Full Sun 

Flowering period: N/A

Soil: Moist, well-drained

Eventual Height: 25m

Eventual Spread: 8m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6a – 9b

Family: Pinaceae

Abies pinsapo is an evergreen tree with a conical growth habit. It’s foliage is pale blue green. The leaves of the tree are 1.5 – 2 centimeters long, quiet rigid and sharp. They are arranged radially all around the shoots. They have broad bands of whitish was on both sides. The cones of the plant emerge raspberry red and become cylindrical with age, 9 – 18 centimeters long and mature to greenish pink to purple. They are smooth with the bract scales, short and not exserted. The male and female cones appear on the same tree. When mature these scales disintegrate to release winged seeds. 

 Abies pinsapo, commonly known as the Spanish Fir or Hedgehog Fir, is native to southern Spain and northern Morocco. It is considered as the Andalusian National Tree, being native to the Andalusian mountains. The species survived the last major glaciation and saw the formation of the Strait of Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea. The Swiss botanist Edmond Boissier that first described this species for science in 1838 and the tree was introduced into the UK in 1839.  A. pinsapo is considered to be endangered in its naturals habitat according to ‘The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’

The etymological root of the binomial name Abies is derived from the Latin name for the fir tree. Pinsapo is derived from the Spanish name for this tree, ‘Pinapares’. 

Abies pinsapo (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Abies pinsapo (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Abies pinsapo useful as a specimen tree for a parkland scheme. It is not tolerant of urban pollution.

Abies pinsapo ’Glauca’ variety of this tree has been awarded the prestigious Royal Horticultural Societies annual Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

A. pinsapo prefers well drained soils, in full sun to partial shade. It will tolerate most pH of soil, although it prefers chalk soils.

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance.

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