Abies pindrow has its eastern limit at Dunai, in the Thuli Bheri valley, longitude 83oE, from where it extends westwards as far as Afghanistan. It is found on north- and west-facing slopes from 2100 to 3000 m, usually in damp gullies. Where it occurs, it is usually dominant, but it may be mixed with other conifers such as Tsuga dumosa, Picea smithiana and Pinus exulsa, and broadleaved trees such as Juglans, Aesculus, Quercus semecarpifolia and Q. floribunda. It typically occurs at lower altitudes than A. spectabilis.
In India the seed falls in October and November and normally germinates in May or June; good seed years occur every 3-4 years. If conditions are favourable, such as on newly exposed mineral soil, regeneration is often profuse, but it may fail on impermeable soils, or where there is an accumulation of needle litter. In such cases hoeing the soil is beneficial. Young seedlings benefit from side shade.
Cones are collected in September and October, not more than a month before they would begin to break up on the trees. Good seed is available once in every three or four years. The cones should be allowed to mature in the shade and break up naturally; they should not be forced open. Seed from unripe cones has low viability. There are about 27,000 seeds kg-1 . After collection the wings should be removed by gently rubbing the seeds in a cloth bag, taking care not to damage the seed coats, and then winnowed.
The seed is orthodox, and should be stored in sealed polythene bags after drying for several days in the sun. If it is not dried properly it may be viable for only a few months. If collected from high altitudes the seed may need cold moist stratification. One method of doing this is to place the seed mixed with sand in large clay pots, protected against rodents by wire mosquito gauze. The pots are stood out in the open in a well-drained trench. Stratification may also be achieved by sowing the seed in beds as soon as it is collected, and waiting for it to germinate at the onset of the monsoon. During this period it must be kept moist and protected against rodents. In India 1 kg seed produces 1500 plantable seedlings.
As described above the seed can be sown either immediately after collection, if stratification is needed. Otherwise it should be sown at the end of the cold weather, in February or March. Autumn-sown seed will not germinate until the next spring. Germination begins about two weeks after sowing, and is complete within a month.
The normal method is to sow the seed in raised beds at 200 g m-2. The seedlings should be pricked out into black, or extra thick transparent, polypots shortly after germination, without waiting for the primary needles to appear. Alternatively one or two seeds may be sown directly into the pots. A good potting mixture should be used of three parts soil 10 one part of sand, plus, if possible, about one part in five of compost. Pricking out should be completed well before the start of the monsoon as firs are susceptible to damping-off and their growth in the nursery is slow. Little growth occurs during the first year after pricking out, and even after two years the seedlings will only be about 10 cm tall. The surface of the soil in the polypots should be cultivated from time 10 time. At least three years will be needed in the nursery, until the plants are more than 20 cm taIl.
For raising bare-root stock the seedlings should be pricked out into raised beds at 15 cm x 15 cm spacing, and either root pruned, or repeatedly transplanted. Suri and Seth (1959) say that two or three such transplantings may be needed.
For lower altitudes container-raised plants are to be preferred, but at higher altitudes bare-root stock have been successfully used. In India direct sowing has not given good results.
According to Troup (1921) initial growth rates are very slow, but increase after about 10 years to 30-45 cm height growth per annum. In India in natural forest, trees average 6 m in height and 8-13 cm in diameter at 30 years old, and reach 30m in height by 50 cm in diameter in 110 years; 150 years are needed 10 reach 60 cm in diameter. Planted trees in India took 20 years to reach a mean height of 2.6 m. A volume table for A. pindrow has been prepared by Chaturvedi (1973a).
Where it occurs, at high altitudes in western Nepal, it is an important source of building timber. It has not been planted very much; its very slow rate of growth make plantations rather unattractive.