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Featured Plant

December

Abies numidica

Profile:

Scientific name: Abies numidica

Family: Pinaceae

Plant type: Evergreen tree

Environment: Full sun to part shade, prefers well-drained soil

Uses: Screen planting or specimen tree

Location:

Conifer Lawn – 45B

About

Algerian fir (Abies numidica) is a large, evergreen tree endemic to Algeria and the only fir species endemic to the African continent. In the wild, the species is critically endangered, and is found in only one small area.

Found in northeastern Algeria in the Djebel Babor Mountain Nature Reserve, part of the Babor Mountains, Algerian firs face multiple threats. The species’ habitat in its limited range has been degraded in recent years due to forest fires and animal grazing. Additionally, young saplings have difficulty establishing themselves in the forest due to a dense understory and deep snow in the winter. As such, Algerian firs are considered critically endangered, meaning that the species faces an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild,” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, an index of “the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus, and plant species.”

In their native range Algerian firs are a dominant part of the forest canopy. These forests are critical habitat for endemic plants, in addition to native birds, such as the Algerian nuthatch (Sitta ledanti), and mammals, such as the Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus), that also have quite limited ranges.

 

The attractive species was first introduced into cultivation in the 1860s in Europe and to North America in the 1890s. In North America the species is relatively rare in cultivation. Often planted as a specimen tree, Algerian fir is also used in hedge plantings. In cultivation, the species prefers full sun and can withstand summer drought conditions.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and Profile by Victoria Stewart.

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