How to grow Abies Koreana

Native to the mountain ranges of South Korea and Jeju-do island, Abies Koreana is a small, slow-growing, evergreen tree with an exceptionally neat habit when young. It was first collected for western science in 1917 by well known plant hunter Ernest Henry 'Chinese' Wilson (1876–1930).

In its native habitat, Abies Koreana occurs typically in subalpine regions. They are usually found growing in shallow mountain soils which are naturally poor in humus content. Sadly, the effects of climate change, pathogen attack and the invasion of pines and bamboo species on Jeju-do island, Abies koreana has now been classified as an endangered species by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Abies Koreana cones

The needle-like leaves are between 1-2 cm long, radially arranged on strong shoots and loosely arranged on others. They are dark green above and a gleaming white underneath. It is an ornamental species noted for its violet-purple, cylindrical cones which are approximately 5-8 cm long, which can be produced on specimens as small as 1.5 metres in height. It is a slow growing specimen gaining around 15 cm per year. That being said it can, under favorable conditions Abies Koreana can reach up to 30 metres in height.

Attractive crimson, pink or green female flowers are borne freely in May, and emerge in upright lines along the branches. The male flowers are globular, and are clustered among the leaves. They appear red-brown then turn to yellow as they mature.

Abies Koreana has a notably compact and tidy, conical habit, and while as a species it can grow into a magnificent tree, the plants found under cultivation in the UK end up as rather poor specimens as they mature. It is fair to say that most examples of the Korean fir in cultivation in the UK are descended from the first introduction, which was taken from an isolated Korean island. This first introduction was sadly a rather poor representation of the species, so the plants subsequently propagated from it have been short and stunted in habit.

To maintain the most attractive shape make sure that Abies Koreana is planted in full sun and out of the shadow of surrounding plants or structures. It will perform well in any fertile, moist well-drained soil.

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