Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo)
It is a tree (up to 30 m high) with a conic shape until it reaches old-age and gets a "candelabra"shape". The bark is dark grey, of an ashen shape. The branches are set in floors or levels (whorls), so that each level coincides with a growth-phase (with spring). The leaves are persistent needle-shaped (acicular, up to 1, cm long), with a rounded or sharp shape and set in a cylindrical form. Male cones are small, rounded and brown. They are pollen-bearers. The female cones are set erected on the tip of ripen branches, they are bigger and also cylindrical. They break down when ripe in autumn of the following year after their birth. They contain seeds inside (pine nuts), in pairs with a membranous wing to help its dispersion.
WHERE DOES IT LIVE?
This species grows on calcareous soils, forming pure or mixed forests with other tree or bush species. They also appear on ultra-basic soils /(peridotites), but only in Sierra Bermeja. It always grows in northwards slopes or with a north-eastern exposure , with a certain pending and between 350 and 1800 meters above sea level. It is usually found both on deep well structured soils and on very rocky grounds. The main feature determining the presence of the Spanish fir is abundant rainfall. Due to its relict character and restricted distribution adapted to very precise climates with very low temperatures, we can notice how some specimens are going in higher altitudes. It is colonizing the highest parts of the province.
HOW DOES IT LIVE?
Spanish fir seeds are exposed, not inside a fruit. They are grouped in some structures called cones. Spanish firs flower every two years. It is a monoecious species (there are male and female flowers on a single specimen). The cones start forming during the vegetative growing phase in July and stay latent until the following spring, when flowering occurs. Pollen seeds are dispersed by the wind (anemophil), thanks to some air-full sachets sticking to the pollen seeds. After pollination, female cones start to grow, so that when fecundation occurs, two months later, they have already reached their final size. They end ripening in early September, dispersing the pine nuts since November or December of the following year.
WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN THE MALAGA PROVINCE?
It is an endemic species from Spain and Northern Africa. In Málaga, it is a very localized species. It appears in the Ronda mountain range (Ronda, Igualeja and Parauta), Sierra Bermeja (Estepona, Genalguacil and Jubrique) and Sierra de las Nieves (El Burgo, Yunquera, Tolox and Istán). There are loose specimens in other mountain ranges (Sierra Blanca and Canucha and Sierra Real). In the Great Path, we can find it in the 23 stage, between El Burgo and Ronda.
Its wood has sometimes been used to build houses (roofs and structures), to make wood charcoal and boat masts, tools and traverses for rail lines. The shaded lying of the Ronda bullring is made of Spanish fir wood. The Spanish fir is a species of a great ecological value; it is threatened and creating unique forests and environments among the Mediterranean region. Spanish fir’s populations and forests from the Málaga province are one of the best Andalusian ecological treasures. The Spanish fir is currently protected by Spanish and Andalusian laws, as it is part of the Endangered Species list.
It is an unmistakable species.