A tree 40 to 50, occasionally 80 ft high, of compact, pyramidal form; young shoots very densely covered with red-brown down, which persists several years; buds small, globose, completely encased in resin. Leaves 1⁄3 to 1 in. long, 1⁄12 in. wide; dark shining green and deeply grooved above; glaucous beneath, with two broad bands of stomata; apex rounded and notched. The lower ranks spread horizontally, whilst the upper and shorter ones point forward and completely hide the shoot. Cones 3 to 4 in. long, about 2 in. wide, rounded at the top, egg-shaped, purple when young; bracts hidden. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 45.
Native of Japan; introduced by Charles Maries from Mt Hakkoda in 1878, but the oldest plants in cultivation are from another source, perhaps the German nursery firm of Hesse. It is a handsome fir, with shining foliage, but slow-growing and very rare in cultivation. The best specimens known are: Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1910, 55 × 5 ft (1966); Leonardslee, Sussex, 58 × 3 ft (1961); Grayswood Hill, Surrey, 55 × 31⁄2 ft (1964).
It has been confused with A. veitchii and with the American A. amabilis, while the fir illustrated in Bot. Mag., t. 8098, is not A. mariesii but A. spectabilis.