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Habitat and EcologyHabitat and Ecology
Abies religiosa is a high mountain species, occurring between 1,200 m and 4,100 m a.s.l., but more commonly between 2100 m and 3,100 m, usually on well drained mountain soils of volcanic origin. The climate is cool, moist oceanic on ranges near the coast, colder with more snow in the interior, with abundant precipitation. There are pure stands of this fir at the higher elevations, but it is often mixed with Pinus montezumae, P. hartwegii, in the north of its range also with Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca; at lower elevations Quercus spp., Alnus acuminata, Prunus serotina, and Arbutus spp. become more abundant. Shrubs are e.g. Vaccinium spp., Andromeda spp., Ribes spp., and Fuchsia spp.This species has a very special ecological significance since it serves as the hibernation tree (in a very limited part of its range in south-central Mexico) for many millions of Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) yearly making one of the most spectacular displays in all of nature.