UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

Davidsonia Dec 1, 1977

Item Metadata


JSON: davidsonia-1.0115053.json
JSON-LD: davidsonia-1.0115053-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): davidsonia-1.0115053-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: davidsonia-1.0115053-rdf.json
Turtle: davidsonia-1.0115053-turtle.txt
N-Triples: davidsonia-1.0115053-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: davidsonia-1.0115053-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

VOLUME 8                  NUMBER 4
Winter 1977
*^:^^                                                 :l^^^Nl
p     1
'*v t   \ ff''   jff fi  -'■ i<aR/         /■/,./         ,,*       . ■ ,y
W^*& t-^ S  ;*&&■■'. --''  ■- ■'/
aK^r&wy    ^^J--•'?'""." — '■' 22222^
■ rj^  ft n£&              l,\\                                    ^—           ,r
■ &    /p Wr               I "■4
iff /ii f       / i \
IK .;' - '   3           /   i    ^
■'Ji^\   //K\
i -'' W^
/'■A .1     1/ *   '■? Cover:
Helleborus niger or the Christmas Rose.
A member of the Ranunculaceae, this species
has durable and cold resistant flowers which
often appear just before Christmas.
Winter 1977
Davidsonia is published quarterly by The Botanical Garden of The University of British
Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1W5. Annual subscription, six dollars.
Single numbers, one dollar and fifty cents. All information concerning subscriptions should
be addressed to the Director of The Botanical Garden. Potential contributors are invited to
submit articles and/or illustrative material for review by the Editorial Board.
A cknowledgements
The pen and ink illustrations are by Mrs. Lesley Bohm. The photograph on the inside back
cover was taken by Dr. R. L. Taylor; all other photographs were taken by Cathie Lester.
The article on Abies was researched by Mrs. Sylvia Taylor. Editorial and layout assistance
was provided by Mrs. Sylvia Taylor and Mrs. Jean Marchant.
ISSN 0045-9739
Second Class Mail Registration Number 3313 Hortitherapy: An Expanding Role
for Botanical Gardens
Many of us find working with plants a satisfying and relaxing experience. In that sense horticulture as therapy is not new. What is new has been the slow evolution over the past 30 years of the
use of horticulture as one of many activities which rehabilitation therapists use to achieve treatment
In general, rehabilitation programs are aimed at helping each person function as independently
and with as much dignity as possible. Since people vary considerably in their ability it is important to
work through a medium which can be graded to suit each person's needs. This flexibility makes it
possible for a person who is deteriorating or one who is improving to continue with the same activity, £3 3
but at a different level.
Horticulture as therapy can be useful to a wide range of people including ambulant disabled,
retarded children, and "cerebral" gardeners, people who enjoy watching and learning about plants
although they are unable to use their hands. Mixing soil may increase gross motor skills, although a
headstick with a spoon attached is amazingly useful. Planting seeds requires fine hand coordination if
the seeds are carefully placed but they can be spread broadside. In this way, each person is
encouraged to do as much as possible because it is fun, while at the same time, perhaps, increasing
muscle strength, range of motion, dexterity and self-confidence.
It appears that much of the early work involving the use of plant materials was done by individual
hospitals in an effort to meet the needs of their patients. For example, the Menninger Foundation had
a greenhouse in the 1940's which was used by psychiatric patients.
In the 1960's, The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, started to study the problems of wheelchair gardeners. A group of raised gardens were built, suitable tools were purchased and a trained
horticulturist was hired. At Ingo Simon House, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, a garden was
established to study the problem of ambulant disabled. A lean-to greenhouse, raised beds and a
prototype potting shed were built. The Wolfson Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Wimbledon, began
studying the use of gardening as a means of therapy for people with head injuries.
So far as it is possible to tell from available literature, these were the first joint ventures by horticulturists and rehabilitation therapists which produced not only the theory for 'hortitherapy' but
also attempted to document the range of practical knowledge necessary to implement the theory.
"■Virginia G. Fearing, OTR, Rehabilitation Therapist, Harry Purdy Extended Care Unit,
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada
The development of hortitherapy in Canada appears to be a recent development and documentation has been almost non existent. In the fall of 1975, a special symposium entitled, "Horticulture as
a Tool in Therapy" was organized by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Hamilton. The proceedings of
this symposium have been published as a Technical Bulletin from the Royal Botanic Gardens (1975).
The emphasis during this symposium was an evaluation of the use of horticultural practices and
techniques as part of job retraining and placement of the handicapped in the job market. Little
attention was focused on the utilization of horticulture as therapy for individual growth and development. The program should provide an opportunity for the participation of an individual in a normal
activity which is an everyday experience for most people.
In 1976, the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, in an effort to expand its role in the
community, initiated a special project for handicapped people. This project, which is one of many at
the Garden, provides an opportunity for a number of Friends of the Garden to participate in a
Garden outreach program. The Friends are a group of people who volunteer one day a week to work
on various projects in support of the Botanical Garden activities.
With the guidance of Botanical Garden staff, several Friends offered to present a plant class at
Pearson Hospital, an extended care unit in Vancouver geared toward younger adults. The objective
of the project was to gain practical experience in utilizing plant material with programs for handicapped people, to determine how best the Botanical Garden could participate in a patient program,
and to stimulate an interest in plants and their uses within a hospital environment.
In October, Margaret Coxon, Curator of the Botanical Garden Greenhouse, and several Friends
presented a plant propagation class to a far larger group than had been expected. Everyone involved
had a grand time. Clearly, an ongoing plant class would be well received.
At about this time I began working as an occupational therapist at Pearson Hospital and therefore
54 was in a position to begin a pilot project there with the purpose of learning as much as possible about
organizing and carrying on a successful plant program in an institution.
Much of what was learned from this project with severely disabled people, such as optimum group
size, use of volunteers and other requirements which are unique to hospitals, could be extrapolated to
fit other types of patient groups. Nevertheless, each group has its own unique characteristics and the
group at Pearson was no exception. For example, the pilot group included one person who could not
speak, several who were difficult to understand, and a few who could not use their hands at all.
Except for one person who was face down on a stretcher, everyone was in a wheelchair. Most of the
group were poorly coordinated or lacked hand strength.
This group, who named themselves "The Greeneries", met once a week for an hour or so and
although roughly twelve people were loyal members, the group tended to become a focus of activity
which attracted other people in the area.
The therapeutic goals for this groups were:
1. to have fun;
"2. to enjoy the textures and fragrances of soils and plants;
3. to stimulate intellectual growth;
4. to encourage involvement in the community;
5. to form a group with a common interest;
6. to increase attention span for some people.
The therapist and an activity aide cooperated in leading this group. Each meeting included background material and instruction for the project of that day. Every member did as much as possible,
which sometimes meant only telling a volunteer exactly what to do, The work area was set up so that
it didn't matter if soil or plants were spilled. Although there was a deliberate attempt to introduce
new and interesting material to this group, the atmosphere was not that of a classroom but of an
informal workshop. FIGURE 1. Margaret Coxon of the
Botanical Garden Staff talks about
cacti to members of 'The Greeneries'
from the Pearson Hospital.
FIGURE 2. Roy Zufelt potting up a
fern during a meeting of 'The
FIGURE 3. Raymond Lanyon filling
pots for planting up new plants. A few programs failed and several had to be modified, but most were successful. Examples were
the herb sale which helped raise enough money to cover operating costs, and the development of
hanging baskets that graced the hospital all summer long.
About every eight weeks, there was an outing into the community. For example, after Dr. John
Neill, from the Botanical Garden, had shown his slides on the development of Nitobe Garden, the
group was eager to visit this Garden. They returned to Nitobe later in the season and they agreed that
it was a good place to get a feeling for seasonal changes, something missing in any institution. It
would be interesting to bring a group like this to Nitobe Garden every two months all year round.
There were several trips to the Botanical Garden greenhouse which proved to be most popular.
The group always returned from the greenhouse with an assortment of cuttings, often enough
material for several subsequent meetings.
The new B.C. Native Garden in the Botanical Garden with its tall trees and narrow paths seemed a
natural place to take people from an institution. To make certain that the Garden was wheelchair-
accessible, two people from Pearson, one on a stretcher and one in a wheelchair, were taken on a test
trip through the Garden by Alan Rose, Curator of the Garden and David Tarrant, Educational
Coordinator of the Botanical Garden.
As a result of this trial assessment, a few obstacles were removed, one corner was widened and
additional bark mulch was spread on the paths. Also, it became obvious that to avoid having to push
visitors in wheelchairs uphill, one simply had to start at the north end of the Garden and proceed to
the south end, as the Garden is accessible to cars at both ends. In rough terrain, when a front wheel of
a wheelchair gets caught, it is necessary for the pusher to lift the wheelchair in front to free the
wheels. As a result of these experiences, a universal yoke which could be attached to the front of any
standard wheelchair allowing even the heaviest person to be transported safely and easily over rough
terrain was developed. The special yoke, which is described more completely in DAVIDSONIA
£5(3 (1977), is now available for public use at the U.B.C. Botanical Garden.
Several Friends, who served as expert guides, came along with the group each time we visited a
component of the Garden and their knowledge and general good spirits added greatly to the experience. Also, it meant that rather than being bunched together in a tour group, people could spread out
through the Garden in a more relaxed manner.
The pilot project ended in June, with many achievements and much new information including:
optimum group size, and an indication of how to best use volunteers. It became obvious that people
with a wide range of physical abilities could work with plants. "Cerebral Gardeners" were especially
attracted to this group. They enjoyed watching, learning, smelling, and touching even though they
could not use their hands or might not be able to speak. Trips outside the hospital to Gardens were
always popular. Many natural and healthy contacts were made through this group.
One unexpected result occurred when a member who had refused for years to leave the hospital in
an attempt to avoid embarrassment, gathered courage to visit the greenhouse because she was eager
to see the cacti. After her first trip, other trips followed and new ones are eagerly anticipated. It is a
pleasure to note that the original group at Pearson continues to meet, although the therapists who
supervise it have changed.
A teaching manual would have been very helpful. I found it very time consuming to choose a
topic, gather material, and prepare the lesson, especially when I was not familiar with the material.
Also, every contact I made within the community made it easier to gather information and to find
During the summer, the Friends contacted other institutions in the Vancouver area to learn what
other plant programs were being offered, and what problems therapists might have in conducting a
plant group. A few therapists had gardening projects underway and all were eager to learn more FIGURE 4. Ginny Fearing, OTR, discusses
unusual features of a Prayer Plant with
Jeanette Andersen of 'The Greeneries'.
FIGURE 5. Bev Kot, another member of 'The
Greeneries', potting up new plants for their
57 58
about using horticulture as a therapeutic tool. Common concerns were the best use of volunteers,
time involved in preparation, and the resources for supplies and information.
The result of the 1976-77 U.B.C. Botanical Garden program experience has been the realization of
the need for a resource manual for future programs. Such a manual should be organized by seasons,
provide sources of materials, give examples of actual projects, and provide an introduction to horticultural therapy. Consequently, a resource manual is now being produced by the Friends in
cooperation with Margaret Coxon, Curator of the Greenhouse. It is our hope that new groups can be
initiated through the use of the resource manual, and an idea will have been converted into a practical
program for the handicapped.
Our experience during the past 18 months has also indicated that initiation of professional
therapists to the potential of plants as part of their therapy programs should be part of our
educational goals. An effective way to answer the questions about horticultural therapy posed by
the therapists was to organize a conference for therapists, volunteers, and other interested professionals and administrators so that they could gather the information necessary to start and carry on
their own plant groups. Therefore, a symposium, "Horticulture as Therapy", has been organized
for March 9 and 10, 1978, at the U.B.C. Botanical Garden Office. It is sponsored jointly by the
Botanical Garden and the Division of Continuing Education in Rehabilitation Medicine. The guest
lecturer will be Mr. A. S. White, Research Gardener at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, and
an internationally known authority on Horticulture as a Therapeutic Tool. Mr. White will give a
public lecture at 8:00 pm on March 8, 1978, in Lecture Room 2 of the P.A. Woodward Instructional
Resource Centre, The University of British Columbia. The Botanical Garden intends to publish the
contents of the symposium as part of their continuing Technical Bulletin series.
The introduction and development of new ideas in hortitherapy is an exciting field for rehabilitation medicine working cooperatively with botanical garden personnel. Much is to be gained from
this new association for our hospitalized citizenry.
Davidsonia. 1977. Botanical Garden News and Notes. Davidsonia 8:49-50.
Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton. 1975. Horticulture as a Tool in Therapy. Proceedings of the Symposium, February 13th
and 14th, 1975. Technical Bulletin #7, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario. AbieS grandiS (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindley
Grand Fir
Member of Family Pinaceae
Natural Distribution
Abies grandis occurs from southern British Columbia southwards near the coast to Sonoma County in
northern California, eastwards to southeastern British Columbia, northern and western Idaho and western
Montana, and westwards from Idaho to extreme southeastern Washington and to northeastern Oregon. There is
a gap in the distribution in central Washington and in central southern British Columbia resulting in disjunct
interior and coastal populations. The approximate latitude/longitude of the general distributional range is 39°
to 51° N and 114° to 125° W.
The species reaches its northern limit in southern British Columbia. It is common on Vancouver Island,
especially the eastern side, and on the lower slopes and valleys of the south Coastal Range around Vancouver
and as far north as Johnstone Strait (50°30'N 126C00'W) extending as far east as the Upper Skagit River
(approximately 49°N 121 °40'W). There is then an interruption in the distribution with the species reappearing in
the Kootenay and Arrow Lakes region, specifically in the basins of the Kootenay, Columbia, and Okanagan
rivers (approximately 49°N 117°-119°W).
Abies grandis grows in coniferous forests in valleys and on the lower slopes of mountains from
O-1500(-210O)m. It is present on alluvial stream banks and their border valleys, gentle lower mountain slopes,
depressions and gulches. It reaches the best and most abundant growth on stream banks at low elevations in the
coastal regions of Washington and British Columbia. The species prefers fairly deep, preferably moist but
porous and well drained alluvial soils. The climate can be characterised as subhumid to humid with cool dry
summers and wet winters. The annual precipitation varies from 360-2800 mm over the range with snow forming
1-50% of the total. The temperature extremes are -47° to 43°C with a long vegetative season of approximately
100 to 200 days (the number of frost-free days varies from 72-250 days over the range). The tree is rarely found
in pure stands, but is usually mixed with Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Pacific Yew,
or with Redwoods in California where it rarely extends more than 10 miles inland.
In British Columbia the species is usually found from 0-300 m on Vancouver Island and the adjacent
mainland, and at low elevations in the Interior. It prefers rich alluvial soil on the coast, but grows well on rich
mineral soils in the valley bottoms of the Interior. It is usually present as part of the Douglas Fir-Hemlock-
Red Cedar forest.
A stately, monoecious, evergreen tree, (12)25-90(-100) m tall with a DBH of (50)60-150(-180) cm and a conical
to pyramidal outline. Young trees have a pointed to rather spire-like, rather open to dense crown which becomes
somewhat rounded or cylindrical with a domelike top and dense with age. The crown often appears widest in
the middle because of the strong drooping of the lower branches. The trunk is simple, rarely forked, and tapers
evenly to 1 or 2 slender straight leaders. A mature tree growing alone or in open forest has a trunk which rapidly
decreases in girth, retains the branches almost to the ground, and the crown has a more pointed top. In a dense
forest situation, the trunk tapers very gradually, may be clear of branches for up to half its height (18-30m or
more), and the crown is irregular in outline. The trunk is usually free of dead branches even in this situation. The
branches are in regular whorls of 4-6 with each whorl usually representing one year's growth. The branches are
long and slender with all but the upper ones having a distinct downward and upward swing. The upper branches
are the cone-bearing ones and are usually stiffly ascending. The branches fork repeatedly in one plane and this
forking, together with the forking of the lateral branchlets, forms flat sprays of foliage. The tree is smaller in the
Interior than on the Coast, reaching a maximum height of 25-35 m and a DBH of 20-75 cm. It is also often much
stunted at higher elevations or on shallow or very porous soils.
59 The root system consists of a relatively deep taproot with wide spreading lateral roots. In a dry situation the
taproot will penetrate even deeper into the soil to reach ground water and the lateral roots may be very small or
even absent, while in a very moist situation there may be no taproot and only the smaller lateral roots develop.
There is a mycorrhizal association present.
The bark on young trees is ashy brown with whitish or chalky areas, thin, smooth, and has numerous, horizontal, elongate (up to 2.5 cm or more in length) resin blisters or vesicles. With maturity it gradually becomes
pale reddish brown with grayish white splashes giving an ashen tinge, up to 5 cm thick (less than 2.5 cm in trees
less than 51 cm DBH), very hard, close, horny, and deeply but narrowly furrowed, especially at the base. The
oblong plates or ridges thus formed are roughened by closely appressed scales. The resin blisters, which contain a
thin, clear yellowish, aromatic resin, become obscured by the scales. The bark seems to be thicker on trees
growing on dry hillsides than on moist creek bottoms. It contains a small amount of tannin.
The twigs are pale russet-brown, minutely hairy, and marked at the base by persistent bud scales throughout
the first year, becoming dark orange-brown, glabrous, slender, and somewhat brittle. The upper side is bare
except for the twisted leaf bases. The comparatively slender branchlets are two-ranked laterally and are regularly
paired and opposite in a very uniform branching system, only an occasional one being unpaired. They are pale
yellow-green or olive-green and puberulent at first, becoming light reddish-brown or orange-brown and glabrous
in the second year.
The wood varies in colour from whitish to pale yellowish-brown or pale brown with little contrast in colour
between the heartwood and sapwood. The summer wood, however, frequently has a roseate, reddish or lavender
tinge. It is moderately coarse- but straight-grained, usually brittle, light, moderately soft, and not durable or
strong, but it is odourless and easily worked, taking a good finish with either paint or polish.
The mature winter buds are 0.3-0.6 cm long, subglobose to globose, blunt, pale russet-brown to
yellow-brown, and are usually thickly covered with resin. The terminal bud of the main branches is solitary and
surrounded by 4 or 5 secondary buds, while there are 3 buds terminating the other branches.
The mature needles are single, linear to occasionally narrowly ovate, flexible, and sessile but narrowed to a
stout petiole-like base. The upper surface is a dark shiny green and is usually grooved in the centre, while the
oO lower surface appears silvery-white and keeled because of the presence of 2 broad whitish bands of stomata
separated by a channel with a median ridge. Those of the lower branches are 2-5(-6)cm long, 0.16-0.3 cm wide,
thin, and have a blunt to usually notched apex. The needles of the upper cone-bearing branches are 2-3(-3.8)cm
long, stouter, and are often pointed and notched at the apex. They are more erect, strongly curved upward, and
are more crowded. The needles of the leader are scattered and distinctly pointed. There is a difference in the size
of the needles with alternate long and short, the shorter ones growing from the upper side. The needles on all
branches are spirally arranged but are twisted at the base to lie in one plane and thus appear two-ranked,
spreading horizontally to form flat sprays which do not conceal either the upper or lower side of the branch. In
cross-section, each needle contains 2 small marginal resin canals near the lower surface. They are aromatic when
bruised, with a turpentiney odor which may be disagreeable to some people. The new season's growth is a lush
light green. The needles are>persistent (2)5-7(-10) years, leaving small, circular, reddish, smooth leaf scars which
are flat or slightly depressed.
The cones or strobili appear in late March to mid-June over the range depending on the altitude, from May to
June in British Columbia. They are axillary from buds formed the previous year on branchlets of that year's
growth and are surrounded at the base by the enlarged bud scales. Male and female strobili are on separate parts
of the same tree (monoecious). The male or staminate strobili are single, numerous, and pendent on short
peduncles (ca. 3 mm long) from the lower side of branchlets in the middle section of the tree. They are oblong-
cylindrical, 7-12(-20) mm long, yellowish (sometimes tinged purplish), and contain numerous, spirally arranged
sporophylls, each of which bears 2 elongate pollen-sacs with expanded knob-like tips. They fall immediately
after pollen release leaving the woody cup-like budscales which are persistent for 10-15(-25) years and have the
appearance of a gall-like scar. The ovulate or female strobili are single, woody, numerous, and stiffly erect on
the upper side of branchlets near the top of the tree. They are narrowly cylindrical, 2-2.5 cm long, 6-7 mm wide,
and yellowish-green to greenish or reddish-purple. The numerous spirally arranged scales are imbricate, obovate
and rounded above, stipitate at the base, and large. Each bears two inverted ovules on the upper surface. The
bracts are prominently 3-lobed, emarginate, and are shorter than the scales and thus are concealed by them.
Trees begin to bear ovulate strobili at about 20 years of age, staminate ones at about 35 years.
The cones are yellowish-green to greenish-brown becoming brown with maturity. At maturity they are
(5)6-15(-18) cm long, 2.5-4(-4.5) cm broad, puberulous, roughly cylindrical and slightly narrowed to the B X 0.5
40   H
35   J
30   H
25   -A
20   -\
15   H
10   A
5  -A
FIGURE 6. Abies grandis. A. Habit,  B. cone,  C. branchlet,  D. a portion of the trunk showing the bark,
E. seeds attached to scale. 62
rounded or sometimes retuse apex. They are erect and single at the tips of branchlets in the upper part of the tree.
When young they are often resin-covered. The scales are numerous, closely overlapping, puberulent and woody.
They are greenish becoming brown with age, 2-3 cm long, 2.5-3 cm broad (usually broader than long), more or
less wedge-shaped, incurved at the broad rounded apex, and narrowed at the base, giving the impression of a
short stalk. They decrease in size and are sterile towards the ends of the cone, all other scales bear two seeds on
the upper side. The bracts are pale green tinged with blackish-purple at the edges, 10-12(-15)mm long,
irregularly toothed, broad, and with an obcordate to almost truncate base. The apex is roundish with broad
shoulders sloping inwards to the base of the central tip which is little more than a tooth no higher than the tops
of the shoulders. The bracts are completely concealed by the scales. The cone matures in one season and rapidly
disintegrates, the scales with their attached bracts being shed singly during the fall. The erect peg-like cone axis is
persistent on the tree at least into the following spring and sometimes for several years. Seed dispersal is usually
complete by October.
The seeds are 8-9(-10)mm long, pale brown to yellowish-brown, ovoid or oblong, acute at the base, and are
winged. The wing is 10-16 mm long, 9-10 mm wide, light purple, lustrous, thin, very oblique and wedge-shaped,
and covers the upper surface of the seed. The seeds are very resinous with large conspicuous resin ducts. Trees
begin to bear cones at about 20 years of age, with production increasing as the tree ages. Good cone crops are
produced at intervals of about 2-4 years, but a large amount of mature seed is empty.
The seeds of Abies grandis are considered to have transient viability and should not be kept for longer than
one year in a sealed container in controlled cold storage (-18°C). There is a low percentage of fertile seeds and
germination is variable with often only about 30(-50)% success. Seeds may be sown without stratification in the
fall immediately after shedding, or in the spring after stratification. Stratification should be in a moist medium
at 1-5°C for 14-21 days (or up to 3 months). This is followed by a germination period of 28 days at diurnally
altering temperatures of 30°C in the light for 8 hours and 20°C dark for 16 hours. This regime should result in an
average germination rate of 50%. Tests have shown that there is little difference in germination rate with and
without stratification, and that chipping the seedcoat may be as effective. Seeds should be sown in carefully
prepared seedbeds containing humous soil, and covered with soil to a depth equal to the thickness of the seed.
Germination should occur in 1-3 weeks after sowing.
Seedlings should be protected from direct sun by lath or brush screens, and require a moist atmosphere as
well as moist soil. In nature up to 50% of seedlings may be lost during the first two years, with damping-off and
insolation being a major cause during the first year and drought becoming more important in the second year,
especially in moist shady conditions where the initial root penetration is slower than in full sun. They show slow
initial growth until the taproots are well established, and should be planted out either as 2-3 year seedlings or as
3-4 year old transplants.
Cuttings should be taken only from straight leading shoots and rooted in small pots of sandy soil with gentle
bottom heat. Lateral branches rarely produce either erect or shapely trees.
Grafting, using only leading shoots, is sometimes used for propagating rarer forms, but it is generally not
recommended because it is a slow and expensive process, and good specimens are rarely obtained.
Transplan tat ion
Trees up to 1.5 m height may be moved successfully provided they have been transplanted biennially in the
nursery. Conifers in general should be moved during open weather in early spring just before active new growth
starts, or in early autumn provided there is sufficient water available to allow the development of new roots
before the winter. The roots must be kept as intact as possible and should not be allowed to dry out during the
move. The tree should be well-guyed until it has become established. Taller specimens are difficult to transplant
because of the deep root system which develops. Note that there are regulations at present prohibiting the
movement of all Abies species within and into British Columbia.
Conditions for Cultivation
The growth rate is rapid at all stages averaging 30 cm annually, although early growth may be delayed on dry
sites until the taproot reaches ground water. There is rapid early growth of up to 75-89 cm annually in optimum
conditions, and then between 20-30 years of age there is another considerable impetus in growth with annual
increases of 50-90cm becoming common. Trees may reach 43 m at 50 years of age under good conditions. The
girth continues to increase after height growth ceases. The species is considered to be moderately long-lived,
attaining ages of 200-250(-280) years. The recommended hardiness zone for Canada is Zone 7. The tree thrives in areas with medium humidity on deep, moist, porous, well-drained good soils or sandy
loam, with a pH of about 5.5. The soil should be rich in calcium and magnesium, and nitrogen should be available in the form of nitrates as the tree is quickly and strongly affected by shortages of these minerals. The tree
will grow on rather poorer thin soils provided there is ample soil and atmospheric moisture. The species is
considered to be moderately tolerant to shade, although growth is slower in dense shade. It responds well to
release from rather dense shade, with rapid growth in the crown partly due to epicornic branching.
Pruning should be done in the spring but is not normally necessary or desirable. Straggly branches may be
trimmed back to just in front of well-developed buds, being careful not to cut back into leafless wood or the
whole branch is likely to die. Any seriously damaged or dying branch should be pruned out at the trunk. If the
leader dies or becomes damaged, it is possible to replace it by staking and tying the longest branch in the uppermost whorl into an upright position. The stake may be removed after 2 or 3 years and it will then be difficult to
determine where the damage occurred.
Landscape Value
Abies grandis is a beautifully symmetrical, stately, easily grown tree which unfortunately is rather too large
and rapid growing for the average garden. In a large garden or park it forms a handsome specimen tree or focal
point in moist areas in full sun or light shade. It has been suggested that a young tree could be used in an average
garden to provide a striking focal point, with the understanding that it has to be removed when it becomes too
large. Young plants also make fine tub speciments for some years before permanent planting is necessary.
Abies grandis is not presently available in British Columbia because of government regulations prohibiting
the propagation and movement of all Abies species, either living or as cut trees, due to Balsam Woolly Aphid
infestations. However, the regulations are in the process of modification and nurseries are beginning to
propagate trees so that they should be available in 2 or 3 years time.
Varieties and Ornamental Cultivars
Abies grandis has a wide distribution and there appears to be some geographic variation with five ecological
races or provinces recognised by foresters but not given formal status. In British Columbia the Coastal and
Interior populations show slight differences — the foliage is lighter and the cones smaller in the Coastal population than in the Interior. There is also some evidence that the Coastal form may be less frost resistant than the
Interior one.
Den Ouden (1965) lists only three cultivars. The cv. Aurea has golden yellow leaves, cv. Pendula has strongly
weeping branches but is considered to be of little value, while the dwarf cv. Compacta may no longer be available.
Hybridization between Abies grandis and A. concolor (Gord. & Glend.) Lindley ex Hildebrand occurs where
the ranges overlap in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. Although tending more towards A.
grandis the hybrids are more or less intermediate between the parents and there is complete intergradation
between them. Natural hybrids between A. grandis and A. concolor var. lowiana (the coastal form of White Fir)
have been found in some European gardens which more closely resemble the var. lowiana. So far these hybrids
are not known in the wild.
Other Uses
The wood is of rather poor quality and not durable, but is used for boxes, props, wooden ware, sashes and
doors, rough construction lumber and pulpwood where it is in sufficient supply. Because it is inodorous it has
been used to make boxes for butter, lard and other groceries, and for refrigerators because it also has a high
thermal insulating value.
Young trees are in demand in certain areas as Christmas trees, partly because of the symmetrical shape but
also because a cut tree retains its needles for longer than most other conifers.
One of the most important uses for Abies grandis is in watershed and environmental forestry. The trees often
occupy sites critical to the maintenance of high quality and well-regulated streams, and some of these sites are
also important recreation areas. It is also important as food for wildlife — squirrels remove and store the cones
for winter food.
63 64
An oleoresin from the bark blisters has been used in the same way as Canada balsam (from A. balsamea) for
varnishes, mounting microscopic specimens, etc. Woodsmen have placed great faith in the healing properties of
the resin, and it makes a useful gum in emergencies.
The Indian tribes in British Columbia and Washington had many uses for this species, both medicinally and
in mythology. Resin from the bark blisters was mixed with water (with or without the addition of pieces of bark),
boiled and taken as a tonic, laxative, or for coughs and tuberculosis. When mixed with oulachen grease it was
eaten, rubbed on the chest and back for tuberculosis, or rubbed on sores and boils. It was warmed, mixed with
mountain goat tallow, and drawn on a hair across sore eyes, or drunk for a sore throat. When heated and mixed
with catfish oil it could be taken twice a day for constipation.
The bark was used to cover lodges and for making canoes, as well as for medicine. A decoction of bark was
used either as an eyewash or drunk as a tonic. It was mixed with the large round green rootstocks of an unidentified fern, Devil's Club, gum from Scrub Pine or Tideland Spruce, and Skunk Cabbage root, then warmed. This
mixture was applied to a boil or ulcer to bring it to a head, as a treatment for rheumatism, or as a plaster on the
chest for lung hemorrhages.
The Kitimat and Bella Coola tribes made a hair perfume using the young green leaves of Abies mixed with
dried and roasted fruit or buds of Skunk Cabbage, a small quantity of slightly roasted Cow Parsnip roots, one or
two cupfuls of the gummy buds of Black Cottonwood, and 4 or 5 cupfuls of fresh oulachen oil. The mixture was
allowed to stand for 24 hours and was then boiled and put into a box until needed.
Branches of Abies grandis were sometimes used as bedding or as temporary flooring in lodges, but were of
much more importance in ceremonials and in purification rites. A young girl of the Thompson Indians would
stroke her head and back every morning with branches while praying that these parts would never tire of carrying
burdens, and her legs and feet praying that they would never tire of walking long distances. She also stroked her
moccasin laces so that they would never break. During her period of training, 2 large branches were put on the
roof of her hut and she had to remove the needles one by one, praying that she would never be lazy. Four large
branches were so placed in front of the hut that she had to step over them every time she entered or left the place.
For the first four times she had to say "If I ever step into trouble or step unknowingly into the magical spell of
some person, may you help me, O fir branches, with your power!"
The Cannibal Dancer of the Wolves of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians rubbed Grand Fir pollen all over his
body in winter ceremonials. Certain shamans of this tribe wore head and neck rings of Grand Fir wood.
Diseases and Problems of Cultivation
Like all members of the genus, Abies grandis is injured by an impure atmosphere and is unsuitable for use in
the vicinity of manufacturing towns. It is very sensitive to changes in the environment in general. Sudden
extreme drops of temperature in the fall may damage the needles although they are rarely killed, and they are
quite resistant to severe cold in the winter. Heavy snow, however, may damage the brittle branches. Trees taller
than 24-30 m are susceptible to blow-out of the top, particularly if they are taller than the surrounding trees, but
the missing part is quickly replaced by several new leaders which grow as rapidly as the old one.
The species is susceptible to butt and heart rots from about middle age, rather earlier than most trees. The
fungi responsible enter through dead lower branches and injuries such as frost cracks, fire scars, and mechanical
damage. Echinodontium tinctorium, 'Indian Paint Fungus', is very destructive east of the Cascades but does not
occur to the west where the summers tend to be cooler. Fomes annosus and Stereum species are the most
important fungi west of the Coast Ranges, while Armillaria mellea and Porta weirii are important in the Interior.
The species is susceptible to a number of rusts, being the alternate host in all cases, but most do insignificant
damage. Milesina laeviuscula, 'Fern Rust' or 'Fir-Polypody Rust', has been discovered near Victoria and is to be
expected in other parts of the Pacific Northwest where the alternate host Polypodium glycyrrhiza is also present.
Melampsorella caryophyllacearum, 'Fir Broom Rust', causes Witches Brooms in nature. The alternate hosts are
Cerastium species and Stellaria species. It is of scattered occurrrence and causes light damage in British
Columbia, but severe growth loss and mortality in the western United States.
Several species of insects feed on the buds, conelets and seeds, sometimes destroying a large percentage of the
seed crop. Most are secondary and of only minor economic importance, except for Adelges piceae, 'Balsam
Woolly Aphid', which poses a serious threat to natural timber stands of true firs. For this reason there have been
regulations prohibiting the propagation and movement of all Abies species, whether living or as cut Christmas
trees, within and into British Columbia, to prevent the spread of the aphid. However, these regulations are now in the process of modification to allow nursery propagation and the planting of nursery grown trees in gardens
once more. Halisidota argentata, 'Silver-spotted Tiger Moth' or 'Douglas-fir Webworm', is found in western
British Columbia. The larvae form tents or webs around themselves as they eat last year's needles. The bark
beetle Scolytus ventralis attacks Grand Fir leading to damage by the fungus Trichosporium symbioticum which
is transmitted by the beetle. Because the response of the tree to attack is to produce a slightly changed resin,
damage is usually confined to a small area, unless there has been a massive attack by the beetle.
Origin of the name
The generic name Abies is derived from the Latin abeo, 'to rise' or 'arising', referring to the great height of
some of the species. It was the classical name for the Silver Fir, Abies alba Mill. The specific name grandis is the
Latin for Marge' or 'big', referring to the large size of this species. The common name 'Fir' is derived from the
Old English furh or fyrh.
The type locality is variously described as "low moist valleys in northern California" and "on the Columbia
River". It was discovered in 1825 by David Douglas (1798-1834), a Scottish botanist and collector in western
North America for the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain. He introduced the tree into Great Britain
about 1832 but these introductions did not survive. All the trees presently in cultivation are derived from a re-
introduction of seeds from northern California in 1852 by William Lobb (18097-1857), a Cornish gardener who
later collected plants for the horticultural firm of James Veitch and Sons of London. Lobb collected numerous
plants in North and South America during the period 1840 to 1857, travelling extensively in the western United
States from 1849 until his death in San Francisco.
Rafinesque named the tree Abies aromatica in 1832 because of the aromatic resin and crushed leaves. It is
sometimes called 'Stinking Fir' by lumbermen.
Abies grandis is probably the largest Silver Fir in the world, and is certainly the largest of the Canadian
Bean, W. J. 1970. 8th ed. rev. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles. Volume 1. A-C. John Murray (Publishers) Ltd.,
London, in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society.
Collingwood, G. H. & W. D. Brush. 1955. Knowing Your Trees. The American Forestry Association, Washington, D.C.
Dallimore, W. & A. B. Jackson. 1966. 4th ed. rev. A Handbook of Coniferae and Gingkoaceae. Revised by S. G. Harrison.
Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd., London.
Eis, S. 1970. Reproduction and reproductive irregularities of Abies lasiocarpa and A. grandis. Canadian Journal of Botany
Hillier's Manual of Trees and Shrubs. 1971. Hillier and Sons, Winchester, England.
Hitchcock, C. L. et al. 1969. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1. Vascular Cryptogams, Gymnosperms and
Monocotyledons. University of Washington Press, Seattle.
Hosie, R. C. 1969. 7th ed. rev. The Native Trees of Canada. Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry,
Queen's Printer, Ottawa.
Johnson, W.T. and H. H. Lyon. 1976. Insects that Feed on Trees and Shrubs. An Illustrated Practical Guide. Cornell
University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.
Krajina, V. J. 1969. Ecology of Forest Trees in British Columbia. Ecology of Western North America 2(1): 1-147.
Liu, Tang-Shui. 1971. A Monograph of the Genus Abies. Department of Forestry, College of Agriculture, National Taiwan
University, Taipei, Taipan (with financial support of U.S.D.A., Agriculture Research Service, Washington, D.C.)
Lyons, C.P. 1965. Rev. ed. Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia. J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Ltd.,
den Ouden, P. 1965. Manual of Cultivated Conifers. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.
Smith, H. 1. 1929. Materia Medica of the Bella Coola and Neighbouring Tribes of British Columbia. National Museum of
Canada. Annual Report for 1927. Bulletin No. 56:47-68.
Steedman, E. V., ed. 1930. Ethnobotany of the Thompson Indians of British Columbia. In 45th Annual Report, Bureau of
American Ethnology, 1927-28, pp. 441-552. Sudworth, G. B. 1908. Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope. Republication in 1967 by Dover Publications Inc., N.Y.
Taylor, R. L. and B. MacBryde. 1977. Vascular Plants of British Columbia: A descriptive resource inventory. Technical
Bulletin No. 4. The Botanical Garden of the University of British Columbia. University of British Columbia Press,
Vancouver, B.C.
Turner, N.C. and M. A. M. Bell. 1973. The Ethnobotany of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia. Economic
Botany 27:257-310.
U.S.D.A., Forest Service. 1965. Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States. U.S.D.A., Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook
No. 271.
U.S.D.A., Forest Service. 1974. Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States. U.S.D.A., Forest Service, Agriculture
Handbook No. 450.
Ziller, W.G. 1974. The Tree Rusts of Western Canada. Canadian Forestry Service, Publication No. 1329.
Climatological Summary for 1977*
1977 should be remembered as one of the drier and sunnier years in the Vancouver area. Many
shallow rooted plants, including Rhododendrons, suffered from a long period of heat and drought
during July and August. From July 17 until August 21 only 1.52 mm rain was recorded, there was an
average of 12.7 hours of bright sunshine daily, and the temperature was over 25°C on several
occasions. Yet no records were broken. For instance, the total rainfall for the year of 1065.5 mm was
below average, but not as low as the total for either 1970 or 1971. Maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year were generally average for the month. The total sunshine for each month
was above average, but only the December total of 79.6 hours broke a twenty year record.
However, even if we fail to recall the kind of summer weather which we enjoyed, we shall always
remember the traffic chaos caused by the first snowfall in November.
Data                                                             1977
Average maximum temperature
Average minimum temperature
Highest maximum temperature
Lowest minimum temperature
Lowest grass minimum temperature
Rainfall/no. days with rain
106.7 mm/18
205.7 mm/20
148.6 mm/19
Total rainfall since January 1, 1977
711.2 mm
916.9 mm
1065.5 mm
Snowfall/no. days with snowfall
6.3 cm/1
2.4 cm/2
Total snowfall since October 1, 1977
6.3 cm
8.7 cm
Hours bright sunshine/possible
Average daily sunshine/no. days total overcast
*Site: The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Position: lat. 49° 1S'29"N; long. 123° 14'58" W. Elevation: 104.4m Botanical Garden News and Notes
Plant Introduction Advisory Council — In the fall of 1977, the Botanical Garden established a new
Plant Introduction Advisory Council. This Council is designed to provide a positive link between the
horticultural industry and the Botanical Garden, and between the Landscape Architectural Society
and the Botanical Garden. The Council will review and provide an external assessment of new plants
grown by the Garden for possible introduction to the trade, and, through the activities of the
Council, the Garden hopes to expand and promote new plants for the horticultural industry in B.C.
The Council will also provide advice on the best way of equitably distributing new introductions to
the commercial trade. The Council is composed of four members from the Botanical Garden, three
members from the B.C. Nursery Trades Association, and one representative from the B.C. Society of
Landscape Architects. One of the first activities of the Council has been an attempt to contact each
member of the B.C. Nursery Trades Association and the Landscape Architects of British Columbia
to determine the type of material which they would like to see used in their particular programs for
new and potential projects.
New Technical Bulletin — Technical Bulletin No. 3 on the UBC Botanical Garden Plant Labelling
System is now available. Requests for this Technical Bulletin may be sent directly to the Botanical
Garden Office. The cost of the publication is $4.00 plus postage.
Education — A flyer advertising new educational courses for the spring is attached in the centre of
the journal. It can be simply removed and application for attendance at the courses made through the
Centre for Continuing Education at the University of British Columbia. In addition to the programs
listed, two field study programs involving Dr. Taylor, Director of the Garden, will cover the Gulf and
San Juan Islands from June 18-24, 1978, and the British Columbia and Alaska Coast region from r+rj
July 18-23, 1978. Additional information and a brochure describing these study programs in more
detail may be obtained from the Botanical Garden Office.
Horticultural Therapy Symposium — A two-day Symposium on Horticultural Therapy, sponsored
jointly by the Botanical Garden and the Division of Continuing Education in Rehabilitation Medicine
at the University, will be held at the Botanical Garden on March 9 and 10, 1978. Registration will be
limited to 50 participants. The course is designed to provide a new insight for professionals and
administrators concerned with the care and treatment of handicapped people. Mr. A.S. White,
Research Gardener with the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre at Oxford, England, will be our keynote
speaker with a public lecture given on the evening of March 8 in the Instructional Resources Centre.
Endangered, Threatened and Rare Species Workshop — The Federal Government has recently
increased activity in establishing the definition of endangered, threatened, and rare species in
Canada. The Botanical Garden has convened a meeting of interested amateurs and professionals in
late January to review a proposed list of taxa that has been circulated from the Federal Government
to professional and amateur groups in British Columbia. The workshops will provide a comprehensive review of the plants contained on the proposed list, and will make recommendations to the
Federal Government through the National Museums of Natural Sciences for a revised and accurate
list of rare, endangered and threatened species for B.C. Readers are requested to send any specific
information they may have regarding special aspects of rare or endangered plants for B.C. to the
Botanical Garden Office for incorporation at these workshops. Index Seminum
The Index Seminum or Seed List is published annually in mid-winter, and is the means by which
the Botanical Garden offers seeds for exchange with other institutions. The world-wide exchange of
Index Semina and their contents is one of the principal ways by which Botanical Gardens (and
research institutions) acquire new and often rare plants.
The Index Seminum for the 1976 collection year was distributed world-wide to a total of 535
institutions or individuals engaged in research projects in 52 different countries. The list contained
172 taxa in 35 families, mainly seeds of native plants of British Columbia. Of the 5,478 requests
received, we were able to fill 4,896 from 308 institutions (in 37 countries). The policy of the Seed
Exchange is to list in the Index Seminum all seed of which we have enough for 10 or more packets.
The ten most frequently requested taxa were:— Abies amabilis (119 requests), Abies lasiocarpa (104),
Tsuga heterophylla (86), Larix occidentalis (82), Picea engelmanii (81), Lilium columbianum (81),
Picea sitchensis (75), Cornus nuttallii (75), Pinus ponderosa (71), and Diapensia lapponica (67).
The following are the 10 countries in which our native seed was in most demand last year:— U.S.S.R.
(41 requests), United Kingdom (33), West Germany (29), Czechoslovakia (23), France (17), U.S.A.
(16), Hungary (15), Poland (14), East Germany (14), and Switzerland (11).
We acknowledge with gratitude the assistance received from members of the 'Friends of the
Garden' who spent many long hours cleaning seeds and dispatching orders. The 1977 Index Seminum
has been sent out, and requests for seed are now being received.
"Snow-scene" lantern
near the south end of
the main lake in the
Nitobe Memorial Garden. The Double Mortuary Pole and
Dwelling House in Totem Pole Park.
These structures were moved during
November 1977 to the Haida Village
Site in the grounds of the Museum of
Anthropology which is next door to
the Botanical Garden Office and
Educational Centre. Volume 8
Number 4
Winter 1977
Hortitherapy: An Expanding Role for Botanical Gardens   53
Abies grandis, Grand Fir   59
Climatological Summary for 1977   66
Botanical Garden News and Notes   67
Index Seminum   68


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items