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A tree described as reaching 200 ft in height in a wild state, with a trunk 4 to 5 ft in diameter; young shoots shining grey-brown, furnished with short stiff hairs; buds not resinous, ovoid. Leaves very densely arranged, mostly on the upper side of the shoot, the lower ones being the longer, and spreading horizontally; the upper ones shorter, and pointing forward; it is only on weak shoots that any indication of a two-ranked or V-shaped arrangement is seen. The leaves measure 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. in length, 1⁄16 to 1⁄12 in. wide, apex rounded and notched; very dark glossy green above, midrib sunken, two whitish stomatic bands beneath. Cones 5 or 6 in. long, 13⁄4 to 2 in. wide, cylindrical or tapered towards the top, reddish brown; scales 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. deep; bracts conspicuously protruded and bent downwards. Bot. Mag., t. 6992.
Native of the Caucasus and Asia Minor; discovered in 1836 and first distributed in Britain by Lawson of Edinburgh a few years later. It is undoubtedly one of the handsomest and, in most places, best-growing of the firs, although in some places very subject to the attacks of aphis. It thrives in very much the same conditions that suit A. grandis but tolerates more lime in the soil. In foliage it is not unlike the W. American A. amabilis, which has, however, more rounded and resinous buds, and cones with enclosed bracts. Botanically, it stands much closer to A. alba.
It is possible to mention only a few of the fine specimens in the British Isles: Oakley Park, Shrops., 132 × 9 ft (1960); Woodhouse, Devon, 126 × 81⁄2 ft (1957); Taymouth Castle, Perths., 120 × 13 ft, a superb tree with very luxuriant foliage (1961); Benmore, Argyll, 120 × 93⁄4 ft (1964); Vivod, Denbigh, 117 × 71⁄2 ft (1964); Moor Park, Shrops., 115 × 83⁄4 ft (1962); Durris House, Kinc., 114 × 12 ft (1955); Mells Park, Somerset, 113 × 91⁄2 ft, with a very fine bole (1962); Boconnoc, Cornwall, 111 × 113⁄4 ft, a very fine tree (1957).
At Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, there are large numbers in splendid vigour and size, planted in 1867. Of these the largest is 134 × 141⁄4 ft (1966).
specimens: Oakley Park, Shrops., 141 × 10 ft (1978); Mells Park, Som., 113 × 91⁄2 ft (1972); Endsleigh, Devon, 115 × 151⁄2 ft (1977); Boconnoc, Cornwall, 130 × 121⁄4 ft (1983); Cragside, Northumb., 152 × 111⁄2 ft (1984); Lingholm, Cumb., 108 × 131⁄2 ft (1983); Dunans, Argyll, 141 × 113⁄4 ft (1985); Benmore, Argyll, in Avenue, 148 × 101⁄2 ft, by Bridge, 150 × 11 ft and, by Entrance, 148 × 111⁄2 ft (1983); Taymouth Castle, Perths., 135 × 141⁄2 ft and 132 × 133⁄4 ft (1983); Cortachy Castle, Angus, pl. 1872, 120 × 13 ft (1981); Durris House, Kincard., 130 × 13 ft (1980), and another tree 117 × 111⁄2 ft (1980); Ardross Castle, Ross, 88 × 131⁄4 ft (1980); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 92 × 151⁄2 ft and 102 × 143⁄4 ft (1975); Coolattin, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 129 × 141⁄2 ft (1975).
† cv. ‘Golden Spreader’. – Of spreading habit and slow growth, with bright yellow foliage. This occurred as a seedling in a Dutch nursery and was put into commerce in 1961. It was originally known as ‘Aurea Nana’ (Den Ouden & Boom, Man. Cult. Conif. (1965), p. 33).
A. bornmuelleriana – Contrary to what was stated on page 161, this fir has an extensive range in northern Anatolia, as far east as about 36° E., where it is separated by only a fairly short gap from the south-western stands of A. nordmanniana. Its leaves are arranged more or less as in that species, but they are more crowded and stiffer, with some stomata on the upper surface, and the winter-buds are resinous. In these characters it resembles A. cephalonica, and Liu subscribes to the view that it is the result of hybridisation between the two species. In Flora of Turkey it is placed under A. nordmanniana as subsp. bornmuelleriana (Mattf.) Coode & Cullen. It might be added that, since A. nordmanniana and A. cephalonica have both been grown in western Europe for well over a century, trees resembling A. bornmuelleriana might be hybrids of cultivated origin.
Immediately to the west of A. bornmuelleriana lies the Mount Ida fir, A. equi-trojani. This, mentioned above under A. cephalonica, is controversially placed under A. nordmanniana in Flora of Turkey as another subspecies, but is really nearer to A. cephalonica and indeed is included in A. cephalonica var. graeca (apollinis) by Liu.
All the species mentioned, and A. borisii-regis, belong to the same section of the genus as A. alba, and form a chain, with A. alba at one end and A. nordmanniana at the other.
Two examples of A. bornmuelleriana are: Cairnsmore, Kirkcud., 82 × 111⁄4 ft (1984); and Altyre, Moray, 56 × 41⁄4 ft (1985).
This species was described by Bean (B160, S27) and Krüssmann (K41), but it has now gained a sub species.
A species allied to the preceding but with some of the characters of A. cephalonica, notably the resinous buds and glabrous shoots. It has been considered to be a hybrid between them, but if so, the crossing must have taken place in the distant past, since the two species are not in contact at the present time. It has a small range in N.W. Asia Minor, where it forms forests on the Bithynian Olympus. It is distinguished from A. nordmanniana by the characters mentioned, and from A. cephalonica by its emarginate leaves. There are examples of over 80 ft at Dropmore, Bucks., and Gordon Castle, Moray.
Trojan Horse Fir
A. bornmuelleriana Mattf.
A. equi-trojani (Asch. & Sint. ex Boiss.) Mattf.
The Trojan Horse Fir has inveigled itself into numerous collections over the years and seems to be as tolerant as the familiar subsp. nordmanniana, and just as magnificent. In the wild it can become a very large tree, field notes from the Flanagan & Pitman expedition to Turkey in 1990 reporting specimens of 35 m growing with Fagus orientalis at 1650 m on the southern slopes of Ulu Dag in Bursa Province. Specimens from this provenance (TURX 20) are in cultivation at Wakehurst Place where they are growing steadily into tidy young trees, of about 5 m in 2005. The largest known in cultivation in the British Isles is a 22.5 m tall tree (dbh 60 cm) at Rowallane, Co. Down, measured in 2000 (TROI). It does well at Rogów Arboretum, but would seem to be a bit slower-growing there than in England, as although trees of Turkish origin planted in 1981 are dense and well shaped they are still only 5 m tall (P. Banaszczak, pers. comm. 2007). On the other side of the Atlantic, there is a beautiful specimen of approximately 15 m at the Morris Arboretum, accessioned as wild-origin seed in 1956 and now looking impressive, with branches sweeping to the ground.