18. Morrocan Fir

Morrocan Fir

Abies pinsapo var marocana Ceballos & Bolanus

Native Range: Mountain range near Chechaouen, Morocco

  • The tree is found on north facing slopes with an optimal altitude of between 1,400 and 1,800 metres. It was only identified as being distinct from the Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo var pinsapo) in 1906 and arrived in European parks and botanic gardens in the 1950s.
  • The tree is threatened in its native range by logging, fires and forest clearance. The remaining stands are mostly within National Parks but even these are under pressure from clearance for cannabis cultivation. (IUCN Red List Data)
  • The timber is used locally in the construction industry. The twigs can be mashed in water to produce soap hence the Spanish common name for the species ‘Soap Pine’ and the seeds contain an essential oil that is used in Moroccan folk medicine to treat respiratory problems

The subspecies has an IUCN conservation rating of ‘Endangered’

This tree is part of the International Conifer Conservation Programme which is run by Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, with its remit to conserve and protect threatened and vulnerable conifers around the world. Glasgow Botanic Gardens has been part of the programme since its establishment in 1991 and we are one of 300 safe sites across Britain and Ireland. The Gardens has many rare and endangered conifers growing in the grounds including Torreya taxifolia from California which is critically endangered due to habitat loss and disease and Podocarpus salignus that is hardy down to around -25c and likes west coast of Scotland conditions. To find out more about these conifers and more threatened species go to www.threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk  

Alaoui, M.L., Knees, S. & Gardner, M. 2011. Abies pinsapo var. marocana. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2

Based, B., Oller-López, J. L., Cuerva, J. M., Oltra, J. E. & Mansour, A. I. (2006). Composition of the essential oil from the seeds of Abies marocana. Journal of Essential Oil Research 18(2): 160-161.

Nicholson, R. 1986. Collecting rare conifers in North Africa. Arnoldia 46(1):20-29. Available at arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/678.pdf