Abies homolepis - Nikko fir

The German Dendrological Society (Deutsche Dendrologische Gesellschaft) presented Arboretum Mustila with a batch of 3-year-old Nikko fir seedlings when they visited Mustila in 1925. A. F. Tigerstedt was somewhat sceptical regarding their success, but they are still growing today, along the road between Onnela and Hannula – quite successfully, though not particularly large.

Though rare, Nikko fir has also been grown in other arboreta and research collections in Finland. In recent years it has been imported from Central Europe, mainly for planting in private gardens, but so far no overall picture has formed about how successful, or how popular, it is in comparison with other more widely grown firs.

Nikko fir is native to all the main islands of Japan excepting Hokkaido, the northernmost. It thrives in the mountains at elevations 1000-1800m, higher than its near relation, the Momi fir (A. firma), but lower than the Veitch and Maries firs (A. veitchii and A. mariesii). The bark turns rough with increasing age, the crown coarser, like the Momi and Manchurian (A. holophylla) firs, and the branches are “Japanese-style” angled upwards.