Three years of Abies koreana 'Kristallkugel'

firefightergardener(7/8)June 20, 2012

I thought I had one specimen but a visit by Henk and Edwin revealed I had two. This small, near miniature koreana fir typically has a flattened top and grows about an inch(2-3 cm) a year. Frequently MISspelled 'Kristalkugel', I'll leave Edwin to provide more history on the mislabeling and confusion behind this cultivar.

Specimen 1, part shade

2010 early Spring

2011 mid Summer

2012 late Spring

Specimen 2, originally bought as 'Silberkugel', though it appeared to be ball-shape originally, it flattened out. Note that it was moved this Winter to give the other two friends a little more space.


2010 - no image

2011 mid-Summer

2011 Winter(after move)

2012 late Spring


Thanks in advance, Edwin.

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Can you elaborate on the difference between 'Kristallkugel' and 'Silberkugel', and how you determined that your 'Silberkugel' was actually 'Kristallkugel'?

Enjoyable set of pictures, it's a lovely plant. Did you build your stone walls yourself?


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:40AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Will, please answer Alex's question first before I'll tell you the 'Kristallkugel' story.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Sure thing Edwin, I'll do my best!

Alex, I didn't discover it, Edwin and Henk graced my gardens with a visit(and a scion knife! :) ) and they made several corrections of plant mislabeling in person. I remember them saying 'Kristallkugel' is generally more flat topped whereas 'Silberkugel' is more ball shaped. I'll need Edwin to chime in with definitions for both but I believe 'Silberkugel' is something like 'Silver Ball or Silver Globe' in German, to which is appears more like then the flat topped 'Kristallkugel'.

Because this thread may gain some legs and Edwin can add a lot of photos, I'll add a few awesome specimens, credit to Bob Fincham, Coenosium Gardens.

Abies koreana 'Kristallkugel' - Almost like a discuss or frisbee with age, a flat-topped mound.

Abies koreana 'Silberkugel' - Much more rounded and formal, perhaps ala Abies koreana 'Cis'.

You are right indeed Alex, it's a marvelous plant, but to see this mature specimen in Bob's garden is to truely lust to grow it.

The stones are mostly pulled from the landscape as I dug holes and I ended up building a winding dry creek bed in the backyard with the larger stones as the sides. Thanks for your kind words!

Edwin can correct any errors I might have, as though my collection is large, my experience is still small.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:18PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

The 'Kristallkugel' story:
Somewhere in the eighties the German Herbert Gruebele found a witches' broom in an Abies koreana species tree and named it Abies koreana 'Gruebele'.
Later on another German nursery renamed it in Doni-Tajuso' for commercial reasons.

In the meantime also this one reached the U.S. under both names.
Now comes the strange part: It was the Wittboldt-Mueller Nursery from Germany who received some U.S. scions of an unnumed dwarf Korean fir, or he was forgotten the name, which is also possible.
Kurt Wittboldt-Mueller gave it the temporary name 'W.M. 006318 Am' which means "Wittbold-Mueller, some number, America".
My Dutch friend Wiel Linssen visited this nursery and took home one small specimen of this dwarf.
A few years later Wiel had propagated a nice amound of it and called Kurt to think of a proper name and together they gave it the name 'Kristallkugel' which means 'Chrystal Globe' in English.

In this way the 'Kristallkugel' led it's own life and nobody knew it's true name...
In my Pinetum I've all species grouped together, also the Korean firs and several times I had in mind that some looked very simular.
My personal observations and detective work together brought me to the following conclusion:

Totaly this dwarf Korean fir does have 5 names:
-'W.M. 006318 Am'
-'Crystal Globe'

The final conclusion now is that the original name is 'Gruebele' and that all the other ones must be renamed back into this name.
In my personal database I wrote:
Abies koreana 'Gruebele' aka 'W.M. 006318 Am', 'Crystal Globe', 'Doni-Tajuso', 'Kristallkugel'.

I'm aware now that I put a lot of people into work...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 3:17AM
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Hi Edwin, thanks for the story, but before I proceed to changing my database, how did you conclude that the scions that Wittbold-Mueller received were actually 'Gruebele?'

Are you just going with personal observation of the cultivars in question, or is there more evidence? This stuff just fascinates me. As always, thanks for your insight; don't ever leave this group; you are way too valuable.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:22AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Dave, observation and clear thinking is the key in cases like this.

There are only a few original Korean fir witches' brooms and most of them were found in the 80ties in Germany. ('Silberperle', 'Silberkugel' and 'Gruebele')
As scions come and go from Europe to the U.S. and got some name changes in the meanwhile it all comes to look to the origianal one's and start to compare with the other one's.
Then you'll see that the original one is the 'Gruebele' in this case and the others ('Doni-Tajuso', 'Kristallkugel' and 'Chrystal Globe' are just copies...

For all clarity:
I had this name confusion thing in my mind for the last 3 years and started to graft them all in the same time and looked how they developed in grow rate, time of flushing, needle length, needle colour, etc.
ALL ('Gruebele', 'Doni-Tajuso' and 'Kristallkugel' were showing the same in characteristics.
('W.M. 006318 Am' was just a temporary name and 'Crystal Globe' is just a translated name from German to English.)

Probably I'm the only one in the World who's surching so deep to find the evidence to solve todays conifers questions/problems and also this time I'm very sure that I'm right.
Otherwise I'm waiting for somebody to prove me that I'm wrong :0)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:06AM
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I like it! Great job, Edwin.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:28AM
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This is great stuff Edwin and my databases are updated. For record keeping and observing I have now listed the plant folders as 'Doni-Tajuso'(aka 'Gruebele'), so as to remember what it was originally labeled as. Perhaps over the years I can provide some even more concrete evidence to your theory with photos of identical plants coming with different names! :)

Great work, I promote you to Chief Luitenant Conifer Investigator Edwin Smits. :)


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:28PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Thanks, Dave and Will for the promotion, I'm very honored :0)
Will, please write it down in your database as 'Gruebele' (aka 'Kristallkugel and 'Doni-Tajuso')
'Gruebele' is the original name for this broom which we can use again from now on...

Zsolt, this must be great info for you to :0)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 2:44PM
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monkeytreeboy15(Zone 7b/8a)

Edwin, thank you for sharing this story also.

However, I am confused as to how it is possible for the dwarf sent to Wittboldt-Mueller Nursery from America could possibly be the same plant as the witch's broom found in Germany, 'Gruebel'...

Unless, you mean to imply that, after 'Gruebel' was introduced to the U.S., scions of the same plant were sent back to Germany and renamed to 'Kristallkugel'. Is this the case? Or how is it possible that they are one and the same cultivar?

Here are some pictures of the plant I purchased as Abies koreana 'Kristallkugel':

Thank you again.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 3:55PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Sam, it's 'Gruebele' instead of 'Gruebel'...

It's the case like you said: The 'Gruebele' was found in Germany, went to U.S. under this name and returned back unnamed to Germany were it got the name 'Kristallkugel'.

The same story is for Sciadopitys verticillata 'Sternschnuppe' which was found in Germany, went to the U.S. under this name and came back to Europe under the name 'Green Star'...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:13PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Edwin, you should prep us for smores before rolling in with storytime.

Enjoyed the info and the photos of course (Will).

I have a little baby that could only aspire to be the specimens shown here.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:20PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Will, name your little baby 'Gruebele' and it will proudly grow with the original name which was given to it by the founder :0)

Storytime has just begon, a lot more will follow...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 6:07PM
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I must say, this was quite an enjoyable thread!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 5:15PM
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