MOMI, MOMI FIR
Abies firma Sieb. & Zucc.
This true fir is an "easy-to-see" endemic conifer in Japan; it has a wide geographical and altitudinal range covering mountainous areas in Honshu (except the north and most of the western "snowbelt"), locally approaching sea level (down to 50-60 m) and in the south, Shikoku and Kyushu, occurring in mountain slopes up to 1600 m or somewhat higher. Momi is most frequently found in mixed stands both in old-growth forests and in secondary vegetation. One of its most beautiful habitats can be seen in Yaku island, southern Kyushu where, mostly above 800 m, Abies firma is part of magnificent primeval forests mainly composed by Tsuga sieboldii, Kalopanax septemlobus, Quercus salicina, Stewartia monadelpha, Ternstroemia gymnanthera and a rich undergrowth of evergreen and deciduous shrubs.
Momi is frequently seen in botanical gardens and arboreta outside Japan – primarily in Europe and North America. The following images are from its native land as well as places of cultivation. 1: An old tree loaded with cones, seen in the hilly areas north of Kyoto, Honshu; 2: Lower (shade) branches of a tree in the oldgrowth forest of Mt. Kurama north of Kyoto; 3: A very old tree in Yaku-shima, height about 35 m and the trunk (not seen in picture) well exceeding a diameter of 1 m; 4: Trunk of a mature tree, Yaku-shima, diameter at mid-picture is ca. 1 m; 5: Tree in mature forest of Mt. Kurama; 6: a "Momi stump" in Yaku-shima, with a sign telling that the tree had an age of 455 years; 7: Branches of a young tree standing near the "Momi stump"; 8: Vigorous young tree in the city of Kyoto; 9: Tree top of a Momi Fir in the Kyoto Prefecture Botanical Garden, with mature ones; 10: Mr Nakai of the botanical garden who helped to document this tree, holding a coning branch.