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Abies nordmanniana

Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani - Trojan fir

Abies equitrojani, oksa ©jr

Trojan fir grows in a restricted area of the mountains of western Turkey. The scientific name equi-trojani is a reference to the ancient tale of the Trojan horse, which might well have been constructed of wood from this species as it grows nearby to the location of ancient Troy. This and the other firs of the Asia Minor mountains have caused headaches for botanists because in their splinter-like ranges they don’t form clear-cut species. Nowadays it is regarded, like Bornmueller’s fir (Abies bornmuelleriana), as a western subspecies of Caucasian fir (A. nordmanniana). They closely resemble the latter, with long covering needles and luxuriant broad branches.

Trojan fir grows in Finland at the very limits of its hardiness. At Mustila it has, however, thrived surprisingly well and has suffered frost damage to the lead shoots only in particularly severe winters.


Abies nordmanniana - Caucasian (or Nordmann) fir

Abies nordmanniana, siemenet @Tanska ©jr

The beautiful Caucasian fir may well be the most important fir species in Europe economically, not so much in its native range in the Caucasus Mountains but in western Europe, due to its success as a Christmas tree. For showiness, it comes very close to Pacific silver fir (A. amabilis). The long needles cover the branches spreading in every direction and the branches grow in symmetrical whorls. In the temperate maritime climate of the Caucasus it can reach heights of 70m (ca.230 ft.), taller than any other European species.

Despite being named in Latin after its Finnish discoverer, botanist Aleksander von Nordmann, the species has proved not to be hardy in Finnish winters. At Mustila there remains a strong belief that a hardier provenance might still be discovered in the depths of the Caucasus Mountains and behind the Pontic mountains. The latest trial plantings are from seed collected in the most continental areas of the natural range of the species, and their winter hardiness is being followed with hopeful trepidation.


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