Taiwanese Endemic Plants

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Seed of Itap

(Neonauclea reticulate)

National treasure-class Small-leaved barringtonia (Barringtonia racemosa)

Taiwan Eugenia

(Syzygium formosanum)

Source: photos are taken during the observation of sunshine forest expedition by PDA

       Endemic species are plants growing within some geographical location. For a precise definition, if a taxon group lives and multiplies only within some geographical location naturally, and never appears in other regions for the reason of history, ecology and physiology, it is called the endemic species of the area (Major, 1988). There are various reasons for such phenomenon and they take effect solely or jointly. They include the area and age of the region, biologic extinction under the effect of glacier, re-inrush, island isolation, the age and degree of continental drift, occurrence of bridges, age of flora and habitat, latitude, altitude, change of precipitation rain fall, differences of soil, etc. (Tolmachev, 1974; Keener, 1983; Goloskoko v, 1984) In brief, the result of local evolvement of any kind of plant in the given region is endemic species. Taiwan endemic species are plants evolving locally in Taiwan region, which has adapted well to the geologic, hydrological and climatic environment. They evolve together with other creatures of Taiwan for a long time, form gathers and provide the wild life with habitat.

         Since early 20th century, taxonomists have published a lot of Taiwan endemic plants. This situation keeps on until today. During the war period, such contribution was made by Japanese scholars. After the war, new species were mostly the effort of our countrymen. Take year 1945 for a timeline, there are 813 kinds of Taiwan endemic fascicular plants published before and 237 kinds published after year 1945. There are 61 groups of endemic fern (including subvarieties), 18 groups of endemic gymnosperm (including subvarieties), 975 groups of angiosperm in Taiwan (including subvarieties). In total, there are 1054 groups of Taiwan endemic fascicular plants published, including subvarieties.

        There is no endemic family in Taiwan. The endemic genus is also rare. The reasons for this situation are: (1) most plants in Taiwan are ancient offspring. Their evolvement becomes very slow. (2) The climate of Taiwan keeps stable since 3rd century, which does not activate the evolvement. (3) The separation of Taiwan and mainland happened 200 to 300 thousand years ago. It’s not long enough for species to change their properties.

Source: Doctor’s thesis from Forestry Research Institute, Taiwan University

Subject: The distribution and protection of Taiwan endemic plants

Author: Yan-Shue Zen

December, 2003




研究生: 曾彥學