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Abies bornmuelleriana - Bithynian Fir
Our first encounter with this species takes us back to 1980, the time of the first exploration of Turkey's conifers. That time we went there in the autumn, and had pleasantly summer-like days.
There was no snow (yet) on Ulu Dağ (2543 m) at around 1800-1900 m, which is around timberline there. Not long ago, in the spring of 2010, Kathy Musial, our editor-in-chief, organized a trip to Turkey and we accompanied her on the tour. This time, in the spring, the upper levels of the mountain were snow-covered, sometimes a meter deep around 1800-1850 m where the photographs were taken (see below). Some trees, already around 1800 m and more a little lower, were showing the pollen cone buds.
This re-visit helped to confirm the morphological differences between this tree and Abies nordmanniana (of which it is sometimes considered a subspecies). Abies bornmuelleriana has mostly glabrous branchlets, resinous buds, longer needles with bright silvery lower surfaces. As observed back in 1980 (confirmed by herbarium samples at BP and other places), this species also has longer and wider recurved bracts.
On that first visit we found noteworthy that unlike most true firs, quite a number of small trees barely reaching 2-3 m in height, had well developed cones (we have no comparative observation on A. nordmanniana). – Needless to say, after coming down from Ulu Dağ and approaching sea level we had a real spring again, with all its colors and frangance. And had to get ready for another great mountain, Kaz Daği or Ida Mountains, and another fir species of Turkey…