This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the vegetable kingdom the conifers bear a markedly high and deserved rank, but none more so than the abies, or fir family. One variety of the abies is found alone within the borders of San Luis Obsipo county, and is so rare that, until quite recently, but one specimen was to be found in all Europe. So rare is a knowledge even of this beautiful tree that we have heard but two persons mention it in our two years' residence in San Luis. These gentlemen were Dr. W. W. Hays and Mr. Ernst Krebs. Mr. Krebs has spent large sums of money to obtain specimens, but has never succeeded in getting healthy ones until the present week, when he received seventeen fine young plants. The foliage resembles, slightly, the common firs of the forest. It is far more delicate, the leaves longer and not so crowded upon the limbs, which are slender and graceful. The upper side of the leaf is a deep bright green, while the under surface is straited with silver, white and pale sea green, perfectly beautiful in their delicate blending. It is said to be the most beautiful object among all California's forest treasures, and when the wind puts in motion its airy branches are said to resemble undulating waves of silver foam.
From these young specimens in the grounds of Mr. Krebs, we can imagine what a forest would be where the spiral trunks rear themselves to a height of fifty or sixty feet, and are clothed with a profusion of its delicate foliage.
The habitat of this treasure is a circumscribed spot of a few acres in the deep recesses of the Santa Lucia mountains, on the border of Monterey county, and so inaccessible that but few, even of the hardy hunters, have ever seen it. This is said to be the only spot in the known world where the tree is found. In the early days of California the padres used to send Indians to gather the resin that exudes from the trees where sacrificed by accident or design; and this resin was burned in the censors before the high altars upon great occasions. From this fact it derives the local name of"Pinabeta de los Padres." Mr. Krebs has made arrangements to have a supply of seed gathered next season, and will, we hope, be successful in introducing it into common cultivation. - San Luis Obsipo Tribune.