Top 5 plants of Taiwan originated in the period under the Japanese occupation. In 1912, during British academician H.J.Elwis’s visit to Taiwan, he proposed the top 5 plants of Taiwan in the wake of top 5 plants of Japan. He initiated top 5 most representative and important conifers as Taiwan Red Cypress, Taiwania cryptomerioides, Konishi-fir, Taiwan Keteleeria and Taiwan Incense-cedar. In 1937, the concept of Top 5 plants of Alishan Mountain is proposed by a Japanese scholar. We never know about the original definition for the lost of document. Da-niu Liao said in 1976 that there are three versions of Top 5 Plants in the forestry industry of Taiwan, as the following:
Top 5 Plants of Taiwan: 5 plants that are widely spread around Taiwan Island with a large population. They are species with special botanical meanings: Taiwan Yellow cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa var formosana), Taiwan Red Cypress (Chamaecyparis formosensis ), Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides ), Taiwan Incense-cedar(Calocedrus formosana) and Konishi-fir (Cunninghamia konishii).
Top 5 Plants of Alishan Mountain: Under the Japanese occupation, the government started the exploitation of forest in 1913 in Alishan Mountain. The top 5 species with largest population are Taiwan Yellow cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa var formosana), Taiwan Red Cypress (Chamaecyparis formosensis ), Chinese hemlock (Tsuga chinensis), Taiwan Incense-cedar(Calocedrus formosana) and Armandii (Pinus armandii )
First class conifers: After the war, wood is badly needed for re-construction. Disafforestation is focused on the species with high commercial value. Those species include Taiwan yellow cypress, Taiwan Red Cypress, Taiwan Incense-cedar, Konishi-fir and Yew (Taxus Sumatrana ).
Sai-zhang Guo merged the Taiwan Yellow cypress and Taiwan Red cypress into Cypress, and added Yew into Liao’s Top 5 Plants of Taiwan. Taiwan Yew is not only famous for use as material, but also a rare species in the protection. Thus, Top 5 rarest conifers are defined as Cypress (including Red Cypress and Yellow Cypress), Taiwania, Konishi-fir, Taiwan Incense-cedar and Yew.
Source: Website of Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan.
Group status of Taiwan Top 5 conifers
Author: Zhi-hui Chen (1998)
Source of images of Taiwan Yellow Cypress, Taiwan Red Cypress, Taiwania and Taiwan Incense-cedar: Ecological Protection Network, Government Information Office, Executive Yuan
Source of image of Knishi-fir: Catalogue of plants, Shan-ping Plants Garden.
台灣針葉五木的族群現況 作者 ：陳志輝(1998)