Abies nordmanniana, the Caucasian or Nordmann Fir, is a large, evergreen, coniferous tree in the Pinaceae (pine family), native to the mountains south and east of the Black Sea, in Turkey, Georgia, Russian Caucasus, Azerbaijan, and northern Armenia. It occurs at altitudes of 900–2,200 meters (2,925–7,150 feet) on mountains with annual rainfall of over 100 cm (39 inches). It forms extensive forests in northwestern Turkey, extending eastward through the Caucasus mountains.
Caucasian fir typically grows to 60 m tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m. In the Western Caucasus Reserve, nominated as a World Heritage site, specimens with heights up to 85 meters (276 feet) have been reported—the tallest trees recorded in Europe. Caucasian fir has a narrow, dense, pyramidal crown, with branches all the way to the ground. It occurs in pure stands or mixed with deciduous species (primarily beech, Fagus sylvatica) or other conifers (spruce and pine species, including Picea orientalis, Pinus nigra, and P. sylvestris).
Some taxonomists include populations of A. bormuelleriana and A. equi-trojani from some regions of Turkey as subspecies, A. nordmanniana ssp. nordmanniana and A. nordmanniana ssp. equitrojani, respectively.
Caucasian fir wood is valued for timber, but timber harvests do not appear to have led to significant population declines. However, in some parts of its range of A. nordmanniana ssp. equitrojani is experiencing noticeable declines due to the effects of acid rain.
Caucasian fir has been planted as an ornamental in the United Kingdom since the 1800s, as an attractive but pollution-intolerant parkland tree, and finds use as a cemetery tree in France and northern Europe. Caucasian fir plantations have been used to anchor sand dune shorelines in Denmark. It is also valued and grown commercially as a Christmas tree for its fragrant, non-dropping needles. Various cultivars are planted in the U.S., including a dwarf variety with golden needles, A. nordmanniana ‘Golden Spreader,’ that grows to only 1 meter tall, but may spread to 3 meters across.
(Gymnosperm Database 2011, IUCN 1999, Kees and Gardner 2011, Landscape Architecture Blog 2011, PNW Plants Database 2011, Wikipedia 2011)
Habitat and Ecology
Adelges nordmannianae sucks sap of live bud of Abies nordmanniana
Foodplant / parasite
stromatic, clustered pseudothecium of Curreya pityophila parasitises twig of poorly developed tree of Abies nordmanniana
Foodplant / gall
hypophyllous, either side of midrib aecium of Melampsorella caryophyllacearum causes gall of short, thick, spirally arranged needle of Abies nordmanniana
Remarks: season: 6-8
Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous, two irregular rows aecium of Milesina kriegeriana parasitises locally yellowed needle of Abies nordmanniana
Remarks: season: 6-9
Foodplant / parasite
aecidium of Pucciniastrum goeppertianum parasitises live Abies nordmanniana
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Abies nordmanniana
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Abies nordmanniana
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1998Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
Even though the wood is highly prized, logging has not had a significant detrimental impact on the population. However, the habitat of A. nordmanniana ssp. equi-trojani is in decline due to a number of negative effects including acid rain, fire, local timber extraction and habitat degradation associated with large visitor numbers in Kazdagi National Park (Satil 2009).
Abies nordmanniana, the Nordmann fir or Caucasian fir, is a fir indigenous to the mountains south and east of the Black Sea, in Turkey, Georgia, Russian Caucasus and northern parts of Armenia. It occurs at altitudes of 900–2,200 m on mountains with a rainfall of over 1,000 mm.
The current distribution of the Nordmann fir is associated with the forest refugia that existed during the Ice Age at the eastern and southern Black Sea coast. In spite of currently suitable climate, the species is not found in areas of the Eastern Greater Caucasus, which are separated from the Black Sea Coast by more than 400–500 km.
It is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 55-61 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m. In the Western Caucasus Reserve, some specimens have been reported to be 78 m (256 ft) and even 85 m (279 ft) tall, the tallest trees in the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Russian Federation and the continent of Europe.
The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1.8–3.5 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5 mm thick, glossy dark green above, and with two blue-white bands of stomata below. The tip of the leaf is usually blunt, often slightly notched at the tip, but can be pointed, particularly on strong-growing shoots on young trees. The cones are 10–20 cm long and 4–5 cm broad, with about 150–200 scales, each scale with an exserted bract and two winged seeds; they disintegrate when mature to release the seeds.
There are two subspecies (treated as distinct species by some botanists), intergrading where they meet in northern Turkey at about 36°E longitude:
- Caucasian fir Abies nordmanniana subsp. nordmanniana. Native to the Caucasus mountains and northeastern Turkey west to about 36°E. Shoots often pubescent (hairy).
- Turkish fir Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani (syn. A. bornmuelleriana, A. equi-trojani). In Turkey this subspecies is treated as a distinct species (Abies equitrojani Asch. & Sint. ex Bois.). It is endemic to a single location on Kas Daghi Mount Ida eastwards to about 36°E in Balıkesir Province, northwestern Turkey. This subspecies occupies an area of only 164 km2 and is assessed as "Endangered". Its shoots are usually glabrous (hairless).
The Nordmann fir is one of the most important species grown for Christmas trees, being favoured for its attractive foliage, with needles that are not sharp and do not drop readily when the tree dries out.
- Knees, S. & Gardner, M. (2011). "Abies nordmanniana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Tarkhnishvili D, Gavashelishvili A, Mumladze L. (2012). "Palaeoclimatic models help to understand current distribution of Caucasian forest species". Biol. J. Linn. Soc. (105): 231–248. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01788.x. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "Western Caucasus WHA, IUCN Technical Evaluation".
- iucnredlist.org / Abies nordmanniana ssp. equi-trojani
- "RHS Plant Selector Abies nordmanniana 'Golden Spreader' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "RHS Plant Selector Abies nordmanniana AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-05.