Flora and Vegetation
Jiuzhai Valley is located at the eastern slope of the Tibetan Himalayan Plateau, and the intersection of the subtropical and temperate floristic zones of the Sino-Himalayan Region. In Jiuzhai Valley the florae of subtropical Southwest China and temperate North China meet floral elements of the Tibetan Plateau and Central Asia, thus Jiuzhai Valley is very high in biodiversity. Virgin forests of mountain conifers and mixed broadleaf-coniferous species cover 63.5% of the park with much of the remaining area being above the tree line. To see some of Jiuzhai Valley’s varied forest cover documented by Daniel Winkler click here.
In 1991 2,567 plant species were recorded including 212 aquatic species and 512 categories of seed plant. Included in this list are 92 species plus 42 varieties or subspecies of interest for their rarity, endemicity, ornamental or medicinal value.
Orchids are common in the region and between 2,700 and 3,800m there are 15 species of rhododendron.
In 1986 more than 150 tree species were reported and in 1991 744 seed plants were counted.
Various academics have conducted research on Jiuzhai Valley’s vegetation and flora over the years. One such was the highly respected Wu Zheng Yi in 1987. His extensive findings have been compiled for the internet by Daniel Winkler here.
White bark spruce or Dragon Spruce - Picea asperata
A medium sized evergreen tree, ranging from 25 to 40m in height with a trunk diameter up to 1.5m. Picea asperata are found scattered on 2,600-3,700m belts. Because they are endemic to Sichuan province and are rare in number, they are a Class II state-protected species.
Sargent Spruce - Picea Brachytyla
An evergreen arbor as tall as 41m with a 1 m trunk diameter, tower shape, extended branches, Picea Brachytylagrows on a 2,000-2,800m belt and is one of the main sub-alpine coniferous species. Endemic to China, Picea brachytyla is a Class III state protected species.
Yew - Taxus chinensis or sumatrana
An evergreen shrub or tree, growing 5 to l5m tall, a trunk diameter 0.1 - 0.5m, grows at 1,600-2,400m in evergreen broad-leaved woods and broad-leaved and coniferous mixed woods. Endemic to China and with an oil content of over 60%, it is good for soap and refined lubricant production, it is also edible and used for anti-ascariasis. Because of its beautiful shape, it is an ornamental plant good for gardening.
Katsura Tree - Cercidiphyllum japonicum
A deciduous arbor, as tall as 40m, 3m trunk diameter. Grows on hillsides and valleys up to 1,800-2,000m.Cercidiphyllum japonicum is a Class- Ⅱ state-protected plant, the only species in the katsura family, and a surviving species from ancient times. It is a key species when studying plant zonation. In autumn, the leaves turn golden yellow. The katsura tree grows and regenerates fast, making it an excellent species for reforestation in mountainous regions.
Three-pointed Fir - Cephalotaxus fortunei
An arbor as tall as 20m and 40cm in the trunk diameter, usually grows in coniferous forests at an altitude of 1,000-3,000 meters. A number of plant alkaloids can be extracted from its leaves, twigs and seeds that are used for medicinal purposes.
Spur-leaf Ling Chun - Tetracentron sinense
A deciduous shrub or low arbor, growing to 2-l5 m tall. Usually growing on the banks of streams or at altitudes of 1,800-2,400 meters. A Class- III state-protected plant, it has only two species in the family, and is the sole surviving species of the genus Tetracentron. It is of scientific value in the study of the family Trochodendraceae, its evolution and the continuing debate as to which order Trochodendracea fits within. In early spring, it bursts into beautiful blossoms making it an ornamental plant.
Single leafed grass - Kingdonia uniflora
A perennial herb, without hair. 3-10 cm tall, usually grows below fir woods and azalea groves at an altitude of 2,500-3,500 meters, mixing with musci (true mosses) species. Endemic to China, it is a Class II state-protected species, the only one of the family, and an ancient surviving species. It can be used as an herbal medicine for muscle and bone aches. Its nutritious leaves branch out like a fork (two branches), similar to that of gymnosperms like gingko and other algae. The ground stalk has one leaf trace, different from that of other Ranunculus species. Studies of this plant will lead to discoveries in the evolution of angiosperms.
Chinese Sinofranchetia or Fruit Chain Rattan - Sinofranchetia chinensis
A hairless deciduous rattan, up to 10 meters tall grows in evergreen broad-leaved and deciduous forests at an altitude of 1,600-2,400 meters, and tends to climb and circle around tall arbors. Endemic to China, it has only one species, and is an ancient surviving species often studied due to the unique evolution of the Lardizabalaceae family. It’s branch and rattan fruits contain 6% sugar, its pulp looks white and is edible, the seeds contain 10-15% starch, and can be used in brewing liquor.
Also available are downloadable PDF lists of:
Jiuzhai Valley Fern Species
Jiuzhai Valley Fungi Species
Jiuzhai Valley Cyanobacteria Algae Species