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A tree 40 to 50, occasionally 80 ft high, of compact, pyramidal form; young shoots very densely covered with red-brown down, which persists several years; buds small, globose, completely encased in resin. Leaves 1⁄3 to 1 in. long, 1⁄12 in. wide; dark shining green and deeply grooved above; glaucous beneath, with two broad bands of stomata; apex rounded and notched. The lower ranks spread horizontally, whilst the upper and shorter ones point forward and completely hide the shoot. Cones 3 to 4 in. long, about 2 in. wide, rounded at the top, egg-shaped, purple when young; bracts hidden. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 45.
Native of Japan; introduced by Charles Maries from Mt Hakkoda in 1878, but the oldest plants in cultivation are from another source, perhaps the German nursery firm of Hesse. It is a handsome fir, with shining foliage, but slow-growing and very rare in cultivation. The best specimens known are: Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1910, 55 × 5 ft (1966); Leonardslee, Sussex, 58 × 3 ft (1961); Grayswood Hill, Surrey, 55 × 31⁄2 ft (1964).
It has been confused with A. veitchii and with the American A. amabilis, while the fir illustrated in Bot. Mag., t. 8098, is not A. mariesii but A. spectabilis.
specimens: Grayswood Hill, Surrey, 58 × 41⁄4 ft (1983); Leonardslee, Sussex, in Hill Wood, 70 × 33⁄4 ft (1977) and, in Cornish Garden, 72 × 31⁄2 ft (1979); National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, pl. 1925, 59 × 4 ft (1978); Endsleigh, Devon, 64 × 41⁄4 ft (1977); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1910, 75 × 6 ft (1982); Altyre, Moray, 46 × 3 ft (1980).