This spruce is distributed from Uzbekistan to Xinjiang spanning a range of about 1000 km. For our Conifers Around the World, we included a main (habit/habitat) photo that was taken in Xinjiang in 1998. The dark purple closed cones were also documented there.
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.
To document this tree in Sikkim, in late fall 2003 we started our journey together with botanist friend and tour leader dr. Mohan Siwakoti from Kathmandu. From the capital of Nepal we took a flight to Birathnagar, from there took a jeep ride to Kakarvitta (a border town between Nepal and India) and then to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim (state of India).
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.
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.
It took us 6 years to be able to arrange a conifer-focused botanical exploration in Tibet. With financial help from I.D.R.I. this visit was organized through cooperation with colleagues at the National Herbarium, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, from where 4 colleagues accompanied us with local guidance from the Tibetan Plateau Ecological Institute, Lhasa.
Based on our field explorations in southern Chile, we found this species quite rare in natural habitats. One such location was Cerro Ñielol, a miraculously saved Valdivian type of laurel-leaved forest near the city of Temuco.