The past distribution of Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.) Mattei: results of a multidisciplinary study

Giovanna Sala, Cristina Bondi', Tommaso La Mantia, Salvatore Pasta, Salvatore Pasta, Giovanna Sala, Salvatore Pasta, Willy Tinner

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The present study provides a critical review of the available historical data on the distribution of Abies nebrodensis, a fir tree endemic to Sicily. The only (somewhat ambiguous) references to its occurrence on Mount Etna date back to the 1st century bc and refer back to the 3rd century bc. Although the botanical and forestry literature and the very few surviving herbarium specimens do not prove that A. nebrodensis grew outside the Madonie mountain range, several indications suggest its past occurrence on other Sicilian mountain ranges such as the Erei, Nebrodi, and probably also Sicani mountains. The results of the most recent pollen investigations (still ongoing) point to the disappearance of Abies from most of Sicily by the 1st century bc, and at least since the Middle Ages A. nebrodensis had become extremely rare even on the Madonie mountains. Publications focused on the wooden artefacts from archaeological excavations and the restoration of architectural heritage have provided some information on the past use of fir wood in Sicily, but the species identity of the firs being used remain unresolved. The present review of the past occurrence and distribution of A. nebrodensis suggests that it may have previously occupied a wider ecological niche.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Plant Science
  • Palaeontology


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