On our first visit to the homeland of Abies equi-trojani (in the autumn of 1980) we were accompanied by local forestry colleagues to the site where people were busy with seed harvest – collecting cones of the fir. Luckily enough, when we stopped at one place near the mixed stands of fir, beech and black pine, we met workers who had a cart full of freshly gathered cones!
The story of the discovery, natural history and taxonomy of this remarkable plant has been described many ways, many times; one of the latest is an article and two associated reports in a 2009 issue of Arnoldia published by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. (By typing in the key words 'Arnoldia' and 'Cathaya', the article readily comes up on the web).
Pilgrimage to the cedars of Lebanon October 2010
For many years I wished to see the cedars of Lebanon… In my garden in Tokaj, Hungary, I have a very nice grove of Lebanon cedars now over 20 years old, grown from seed received from Turkey.
Wild populations of this well-known cypress are not commonly seen. One has to travel to Crete or a few other Aegean islands, or certain places in Turkey, to mention some better known locations. When we were on our 2010 trip to Turkey and made a brief detour to enter Dilek Peninsula, we did not expect to see it.
Despite its name, most populations of this distinctive juniper are found in southern Asia Minor (Turkey) and only smaller stands or scattered individuals in Lebanon and Syria. One outlying population is also present in Europe – on southern (mainland) Greece, very briefly discussed below.
During a visit to China many years ago we documented a cultivated plant of Torreya jackii for our Dendrological Atlas project. It was more than clear that this is a most distinctive species not only in the genus, but also in comparison with a broader circle of conifers.
The only temperate-zone species of the genus, this Araucaria is amongst the most unique species of all conifers. Found in the scenic environments of southern Chile and Argentina, it is quite often associated with showy volcanoes and forms strikingly interesting open stands or thick forests, usually with species of Nothofagus.
Juniperus barbadensis var. barbadensis was long on the wish list of to-be-documented conifers for both the Dendrological Atlas and Conifers Around the World. J. b. var. lucayana, the variety named well over a century later than the species still occurs in broadly scattered small populations in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Jamaica, but the type variety had become extremely rare on Barbados by 1830, and soon disappeared from there and the neighboring islands.
The type species is a common tree in the eastern Mediterranean (its botanically named varieties are more like outlying small populations to the northeast). The common name comes after ancient Brutium (now Calabria in the southern Apennine Peninsula), where its stands are generally considered to be naturalized from ancient cultivation – these are the westernmost occurrences.
Featuring "charismatic" species, like Giant Sequoia, in Conifers Around the World has been somewhat different than in most cases. The largest and smallest conifers are equally treated in the book with species descriptions about 1800 characters long.