Artificial hybridization of some Abies species.
Crossability relationships between six species of the Mediterranean, North American and Asian firs was tested using Abies alba and A. nordmanniana as female parents and A. alba, A. numidica, A. procera, A. grandis, and A. holophylla as pollen parents. An overwhelming majority of the crosses attempted was found to be compatible. In particular, it is true of the A. alba cross with A. numidica and those of A. nordmanniana with A. alba, A. numidica, A. procera, and A. holophylla. The crossing A. nordmanniana × A. grandis was the only exception producing empty seeds. Cytological study revealed the gametophytic incompatibility to be responsible for reproductive isolation of these species. At seedling level, all the interspecific crosses of A. nordmanniana surpassed in height growth self-pollinated control. The cross A. alba × A. numidica was comparable in this respect with control variants from open and self-pollination. Except for height growth, some characteristics of needle stomata are provided for individual crosses. The crosses A. nordmanniana with A. procera and A. holophylla represent unique interspecific combinations whose existence has not been reported yet. Based on needle stomata characteristics, the potential for increased resistance and drought tolerance of the hybrids with A. numidica involved as parental species is discussed.