Proc. Roy. Hort. Soc. London3: 320. 1863
Habitat: Continental, subalpine coniferous forests
Abies bifolia has been—and by many workers still is—included in synonymy under A. lasiocarpa or A. subalpina since about 1890, and A. subalpina under A. lasiocarpa since about the 1920s. Abies bifolia is distinct from A. lasiocarpa, however, in chemical tests on wood (H.S. Fraser and E.P. Swan 1972), lack of crystals in the ray parenchyma (R.W. Kennedy et al. 1968), lack of lasiocarpenonol (J.F. Manville and A.S. Tracey 1989), and distinct terpene patterns (R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1979). Abies bifolia also tends to have slightly shorter and fewer prominently notched leaves than A. lasiocarpa. The two are clearly separated by the color of their periderm and by the shape of their basal bud scales. These firs may be more distinct than the pairs A. balsamea -- A. fraseri and A. procera -- A. magnifica. A north-south transect, however, from south central Yukon to northern Washington yielded introgressed trees possessing characteristics of both A. lasiocarpa and A. bifolia, recalling the interior spruce (Canadian Forestry Service 1983), which has characteristics of both Picea glauca and P. engelmannii. These trees can similarly be called interior subalpine fir, i.e., A. bifolia × lasiocarpa. Both A. lasiocarpa and A. bifolia need comparative morphologic studies.
Isolated southern populations of Abies bifolia may also have unique characteristics. The taxonomy of corkbark fir, treated by some as A. lasiocarpa var. arizonica (Merriam) Lemmon, is uncertain. This taxon should probably be a segregate of A. bifolia, not A. lasiocarpa, a disposition that requires a thorough morphologic and chemical reappraisal, especially since the work of E.Zavarin et al. (1970) suggested that populations south of Wyoming may have unique terpene patterns. In north central Alberta, A. bifolia introgresses with A. balsamea (R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1974; E.H. Moss 1953).
|Author||Richard S. Hunt +|
|Common name||Rocky Mountain alpine fir +, Rocky Mountain subalpine fir + and corkbark fir +|
|Habitat||Continental, subalpine coniferous forests +|
|Illustrator||John Myers +|
|Synonym||Abies subalpina +|
|Taxon name||Abies bifolia +|
|Taxon parent||Abies +|
|Taxon rank||species +|
|Volume||Volume 2 +|