Abies hickelii var. hickelii


Endemic to southeastern Mexico where the population is severely fragmented as a result of deforestation

Associated Names:

Hickel's fir, oyamel, pinabete and plumajillo de montaña


Native to Mexico in the States of: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz. Found in very low densities. The population is decreasing and is severely fragmented.

Habitat and Ecology

Both varieties of this species occur in high mountains of sub-tropical S Mexico, at elevations between 2500 to 3000 metres above sea-level. The soils are of volcanic origin. The climate is cool, moist oceanic, with rain mostly in the winter. There are some pure stands at the highest elevations, but this species is usually mixed with highland pines, e.g. Pinus montezumae, P. pseudostrobus and P. ayacahuite, and also with Cupressus lusitanica and Quercus spp. Shrubs are e.g. Vaccinium spp., Andromeda spp., Ribes spp. and Fuchsia spp.

Human Uses

Occurs in more or less disjunct, limited stands. Exploitation for timber is minor and its use is local, mainly worked in sawmills for domestic purposes. In cultivation it is extremely rare and limited to some dendrological collections in countries with mild climate, e.g. southern France.

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Global rationale

This taxon is known from a limited number of locations (data are insufficient to give an estimate of the number) and it is thought to be in continuous decline due to logging and general deforestation in the region. Its area of occupancy is certainly less than 500km² (calculated at 80km² but based on incomplete records) and it would thus qualify under B2 for Endangered.

Global threats

Logging may have some impact on this taxon, but data to evaluate this quantitatively are lacking. For the 1998 CSG assessment it was assumed that a 20% decline had occurred over the duration of 3 generations (about a century). Deforestation in the region is an ongoing process, which affects Abies as a late successional tree more than e.g. Pinus, so it is considered that the decline is continuing.

Conservation Actions

More forest reserves with effective management and policing would be required to protect this variety from decline.